We know Martin Freeman himself has a great sense of humor: Check him out in a fit of giggles with illusionist Derren Brown. Sure, his role as Doctor John Watson has some funny one-liners in Sherlock, but, while the show has its moments, the series isn’t really a comedy. And his unique job in Love Actually may have had people squirming in their seats, but he plays it straight. We’re sure to smirk at his portrayal of a ladies man photographer in the wartime satire Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, opposite Tina Fey.
But, what about the funny-funny characters we love him for?
With that said, we want to dig into his seriously, meant-to-be, comedic roles:
Freeman starred in the sketch comedy series Bruiser co-written by David Mitchell and Robert Webb, to later be joined by writers Richard Ayoade and Ricky Gervais. The series kicked off in 2000, with six episodes total. Freeman took on roles like that of a worry wart, a James Bond type, and a man with a pixelated face. Those are just a few of the characters, but they pretty much can be described as, “A man doing something odd (insert odd thing here).” You can check out Freeman in a policeman sketch over at Vimeo.
2. World of Pub
World of Pub is probably one of the best show names ever, because we know exactly what it is: everything that goes on in a pub. The 2001 series revolves around two brothers who run a bar, Barry and Garry (Phil Cornwell, Peter Serafinowicz), and their friend Dodgy Phil (Kevin Eldon), who try to work out a way to have a more successful business. Freeman plays a number of roles, which you can check out with this clever Tumblr montage of character photos. If you’re keen to check it out, Vimeo has the first episode.
3. The Office
Before there was Steve Carell as Michael Scott and John Krasinski as Jim Halpert there was The Office show co-creator and star Ricky Gervais as David Brent and Freeman as Tim Canterbury. Some might call it the U.K. version of The Office, but like Gervais has said in interviews, “We just call it The Office.” The original The Office ran from 2001 to 2003, with Freeman playing the cool and collected guy in the office who really wanted to be anywhere else. If you’ve seen the American version but not the original, the below clip may seem familiar?
Freeman starred in the comedy Hardware from 2003 to 2004. Guess where it was set? If you guessed a hardware store, then you get a gold star. Freeman takes on the role of a staff member at the store named Mike. His girlfriend works next door at the cafe. The show revolves around Mike and his coworkers dealing with This Old House wannabe customers. You can check out a sampling of the show over at YouTube.
5. The Robinsons
Freeman took on the starring role in the six-part family comedy The Robinsons in 2005. He portrayed a divorced reinsurance actuary who became bored with his job. He makes a decision to find a better job and a steady girlfriend. Sure, finding a new job is possible, but when you’re looking for love, it’s sometimes hard to find. But, it only takes one. His family tries to help but per the course, they tend to get in the way. Hugh Bonneville takes on the role of his much more successful brother. His parents are played by Anna Massey and Richard Johnson. Here’s Freeman starring opposite his real-life partner Amanda Abbington in a Robinsons clip.
6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
In the 2005 film adaptation of Douglas Adams‘ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Freeman portrayed Arthur Dent. It’s like any other day when Arthur finds out his friend (Yasiin Bey) is actually an alien and the Earth is about to be destroyed. The two nearly make their escape by stowing away on a passing spaceship. All is not lost because his love interest (Zooey Deschanel) has survived too.
7. Hot Fuzz
Freeman starred opposite Simon Pegg in the 2007 film Hot Fuzz. Pegg stars as a by-the-book policeman who is reassigned to a quiet town, where there’s no need for policing really. And his sergeant (Freeman) has no problem delivering the news to him.
8. The Good Night
In the 2007 romantic comedy The Good Night Freeman is a chronically unhappy man living with his girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow). He finds escape in his dreams, where he meets the love of his life (Penélope Cruz).
9. Boy Meets Girl
In 2009 Freeman took on the role of Danny Reed in Boy Meets Girl. Danny is struck by lightning, waking up in the body of fashionista Veronica Burton (Rachael Stirling). And she’s in his. It’s a sort of British Freaky Friday.
Also in 2009, we saw Freeman as teacher Paul Maddens in Nativity! He was less than enthused to be in charge of the children’s Christmas pageant, but he finally gets into the spirit. Marc Wooton stars as his foil Mr. Poppy.
Freeman starred in the 2014 TV adaptation of the dark comedy Fargo. The cringe-inducing storyline may not be a gut buster, but the dry dialogue induces nervous laughter. Freeman plays insurance salesman Lester Nygaard. His life is turned upside down when unwittingly striking up a conversation with a hired killer (Billy Bob Thornton).
12. Swinging with the Finkels
In 2011’s Swinging with the Finkels Freeman and Mandy Moore portrayed a married couple. The suburbanites are just plain bored. They decide to spice things up by getting romantic with another couple. They just need to find one.
13. The World’s End
Freeman reunited with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for the third installment of the unofficial Cornetto trilogy, also including Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. All three featured a Cornetto (an ice cream Drumstick in the U.S.). The guys are now middle-aged, with Pegg’s character wanting to recreate a failed pub crawl from their teenage days. The group of friends is rounded out with Paddy Considine.
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