The crime show costars Imelda Staunton.

By Clark Collis
May 11, 2020 at 12:19 PM EDT
Credit: ITV/Shutterstock

Sherlock star Martin Freeman takes on a very different kind of case in A Confession, which premieres on BritBox, May 12. In this based-on-real-events crime show, Freeman plays Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, an actual British policeman who was forced to resign after abandoning procedure while investigating the disappearance of a 22-year-old woman.

"He’s not a policeman who wants to go back to the bad old days," says Freeman, whose costars on the show include Imelda Staunton. "He’s not kicking doors in and throwing people in the back of a van. He didn’t dot an i and cross a t on a particularly extreme situation. He's the kind of copper I want if someone from my family goes missing, frankly."

Below, Freeman talks more about A Confession — and tells us what TV shows he's been watching during lockdown.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Were you familiar with this case?

MARTIN FREEMAN: No, I wasn’t actually. The director Paul Andrew Williams (Broadchurch) said, "I think you should play this guy." I looked it up and read about it. Some people remembered it, but, no, I wasn’t familiar. I read his book, I met him, I watched documentaries about the case, and I watched what there was in terms of interview footage with Steve Fulcher. There isn’t much, but I tried to get as familiar as I can be.

What was it like meeting him?

It was very useful. Really helpful. He’s a really inspiring person. I think, purely as a bystander with no agenda, any citizen would look at what he did and think, this man has done nothing wrong, You know, contrarily, he’s done everything right. I think he was glad that people could learn his story after being sort of vilified by certain members of his own profession. I’m sure he was relieved that the public at large could see what he did. I’m hoping he was happy with it.

We’re so used to seeing fictional policemen with all these quirks — it was fascinating to see one who has a really important job but who goes about it in this “normal” fashion.

Yeah, absolutely. That was something that we really wanted, not to have it with car chases and explosions and everything. Sometimes enormous things can happen in a very everyday way. So that was what we wanted to capture really and bring a sort of docu-style to it. Because if you present the audience with what happened, that’s enough, in this case.

Other than A Confession, can you recommend a TV show people should watch while we’re all stuck at home?

[Laughs] Yeah, a few. I've just watched all of Intelligence written by Nick Mohammed, an English writer and actor, starring him and David Schwimmer. It’s a comedy set in GCHQ (an organization which gathers information for the British security services based in the town of Cheltenham). Really funny. I'm now watching something called Unorthodox, it’s based on a true story, which is about a woman who leaves a sort of ultra-orthodox community in Britain and is finding her way out that. I’ve watched a couple of episodes of that. It’s really good.

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