Martin Freeman Defends Controversial Age Gap with Jenna Ortega in ‘Miller’s Girl’

Lead Photo: Zac Popik/Lionsgate
Zac Popik/Lionsgate

Miller’s Girl star Martin Freeman defended the controversial film in a recent interview with The Sunday Times. The film stars Ortega as student Cairo Sweet opposite Freeman as Jonathan Miller, her creative writing teacher whom she starts a forbidden relationship with after a creative writing assignment that yields complex results.

In the interview, Freeman called the film “grown-up and nuanced” and defended the 31-year age gap between him and Ortega, which has been the source of a lot of the controversy and backlash surrounding the sex scenes, calling it a “shame” that the story had been seemingly “tainted by association.” Freeman is 52, while Ortega is 21. 

Comments from the film’s intimacy coordinator, Kristina Arjona, regarding Ortega’s comfort level and involvement in the intimate scenes, caused SAG-AFTRA to tighten its Standards and Protocols for the use of Intimacy Coordinators, particularly regarding confidentiality.

In defending Miller’s Girl, Freeman even went as far as to reference the Oscar-winning Holocaust movie Schindler’s List, asking “Are we gonna have a go at Liam Neeson for being in a film about the Holocaust?” as he tried to make a point about movies broaching difficult subjects. The comparison, however, falls more than a little flat. Schindler’s List is a movie about a historical event, one that boasts a 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Miller’s Girl, on the other hand, is yet another movie depicting a love affair between a teacher and a student, one that has a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and most of the reactions online surrounding the movie have been negative. The only positive comments have been about Ortega’s performance. And though Freeman insisted in his The Sunday Times interview that the movie isn’t glorifying the affair or saying, “Isn’t this great?” it seems for most people, the nuance just isn’t there. 

Miller’s Girl is now available on Netflix.