Martin Freeman Discusses Age-Gap Controversy with Jenna Ortega in 'Miller's Girl'

Exploring behind-the-scenes protocols in 'Miller's Girl' production.

by Nouman Rasool
Martin Freeman Discusses Age-Gap Controversy with Jenna Ortega in 'Miller's Girl'
© Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Martin Freeman has now gotten into a brewing controversy where he stars opposite Jenna Ortega in a film where they share big age differences. Freeman stars as a high school teacher, Jonathan Miller, in the Jade Halley Bartlett dramedy, which sees him in a complex engagement with Ortega's 18-year-old student, Cairo Sweet.

The project delves into their controversial affair, bringing up conversations on the ethical implications portrayed on screen. Freeman recently told The Sunday Times in a comprehensive interview, "With Ortega, I had all the age difference at 31 years," noting that the film took a mature approach to the handling of matters in the movie.

He said that art could delve into some very challenging subjects without exactly endorsing them, taking into account the 1993 historical drama "Schindler's List," where Liam Neeson came face to face with the horrors of the Holocaust.

"It's not saying, 'Is this great?'" Freeman said, wondering if the same criticism should apply to depictions of historical horrors.

Prioritizing On-Set Safety

The issue of comfort and safety during the intimate scenes has certainly taken center stage in discussions regarding "Miller's Girl." Kristina Arjona, the intimacy coordinator on the film, has told the Daily Mail there were very comprehensive processes that were involved to ensure Ortega would be put at ease during such scenes.

Arjona spoke of extensive consultation with Ortega, to make sure the scenes were in line with her limits, which have never been crossed or even stretched during the filming process. She also said that the scene was shown to audiences in several different versions to find the right amount of time spent on it without crossing a line.

Following the Arjona interview, the actors' union SAG-AFTRA issued new Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators. The guidelines included a lot about keeping quiet on what an actor goes through in any given intimate scene unless otherwise indicated.

Failure to follow the protocols could lead to being struck from the SAG-AFTRA registry, which apparently is held as more sacred than the Napoleonic Code in the world of acting. "Miller's Girl," now on Netflix, has, through its online presence, retained debate and critique of a balance to be struck between artistic expression and portrayal of morally complex situations.

The film evokes a certain prodding of the audience into the layers of storytelling one has to go through to depict such intricate human interactions.

Jenna Ortega