Luck – being in the right place at the right time – has certainly played a significant part in Freeman’s career. While attending a part-time acting course over a half-term holiday, he was spotted by an agent from Redroofs Theatre school, who signed him up. Soon afterwards he joined the cast of Grange Hill, playing Chris Longworth.
During our chat, I ask him what memories does he have from this pivotal and important time in his career?
“It was crazy. I didn’t know anything about the business when I started. All I’d done were a few things on stage. I had to have a discussion with my mum about whether or not I should do it; I was only 13 then.
“I was lucky enough to learn a lot about being in front of a camera in Grange Hill. It really was the perfect learning ground. I would never have got that much experience in drama school, even if I had gone. They tend to focus more on stage craft and technique. It was when I started working on stage that I realised I had a lot to learn, but as an actor you are always learning.”
One of the most important things Freeman learn t from his time in TV was what it took to turn around a television show really quickly. This was just as well, because things moved rapidly after Freeman left the show. Almost immediately, he joined the one of the UK’s longest running soaps, Emmerdale, as car mechanic Scott Windsor. This too, he explains, was “an amazing experience.”
“Grange Hill was popular, of course, but nothing prepared me for Emmerdale. All of Yorkshire watched it and after just two weeks I realised how huge it was when so many people were recognising me on the street. It was a lot of pressure to deal with at that age.”
Freeman’s character, Scott Windsor, was the archetypal soap bad boy, the local lothario who shakes up the village – and all of the female characters in it. When I remark that he was unpleasant at times, Freeman responds in an almost protective manner.
“I liked Scott, I really did. He wasn’t very nice some of the time, but I found lots of aspects of him that I enjoyed playing. He was always interesting and unpredictable, and there was always a reaction to everything he did, which I found interesting.” He pauses. “There are not many characters like that. He certainly wasn’t in any way one dimensional.”
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