Whether it's Tim from The Office, Watson from Sherlock or John from Love Actually, everyone has a favourite version of Martin Freeman.
Although he assures me he’s “too old to play Tim [again]”, you can see the similarities he shares with his famous character.
He is affable and self-deprecating, joking that he thinks the real Steve Fulcher, who he plays in upcoming ITV drama A Confession, was happy for him to play him - although might have wished for “someone taller, maybe?”
With more than 80 film and TV credits to his name, Freeman has starred in everything from cult classic TV series to huge blockbuster franchises.
Despite his Hollywood success in films such as Marvel's Black Panther and The Hobbit, he always returns to his television roots.
In his latest TV venture in Jeff Pope's A Confession, Freeman plays DS Steve Fulcher, a detective from Swindon who breached police procedure to catch serial killer Christopher Halliwell in 2011.
Despite an arrest, Halliwell's confession to two murders was deemed inadmissible as evidence due to Fulcher's breach of the guidelines of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 by not cautioning him or allowing him access to a solicitor when his confessions were obtained. Fulcher was later found guilty of gross misconduct.
The six-part drama, which also stars Imelda Staunton, Siobhan Finneran and Charlie Cooper, is based on the real events that occurred and focuses on what happened to Fulcher and how the case was treated by police force.
“Something bad happened to him, only from him trying to do the right thing”
Freeman describes director Paul Andrew Williams’s desire for an understated and “no acting” approach to the role. “No acting is my favourite kind of acting,” he says.
“Something bad happened to him, only from him trying to do the right thing,” he says. “Any sort of injustice like that in a true life story…pulls people in.”
“To be in that position and then overnight to be sort of persona non grata is a sort of hell. This was just a really good way of looking at one person’s experience of that.”
Freeman is extremely thoughtful when talking about Steve Fulcher and believes his controversial decision to breach police conduct was one anyone would have made if they were in his shoes.
“Every single one of us, son, daughter or loved one would say [to a detective], ‘I want you to turn the world upside down’.”
“In the circumstance of him trying to save a young woman’s life, if that’s your family, you want someone to do everything.”
Freeman empathises with Fulcher, explaining, “I think he’s someone who’s got a real need for people to understand his action.”
The role of a detective is new territory for Freeman, joking that he has only had experience as “kind of a detective’s assistant”. He's alluding to one of his most recognisable parts as John Watson in BBC series Sherlock, which still remains an unfinished chapter in his life.
The modern take on the classic novels by Arthur Conan Doyle took audiences and the internet by storm in 2010 when Freeman joined Benedict Cumberbatch to form the legendary pairing of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
Among the romantic fan fiction and memes online from the show’s dedicated fan base, the hope of a fifth series lingers over every interview with Freeman.
“Everyone knows that Sherlock is on hiatus. I don’t know what will happen, I have no idea,” he says earnestly, knowing he will be asked about the return of the series until it's finally (if ever) revealed.
Along with A Confession, Freeman will be back on UK screens with his parenting sitcom Breeders for Sky One.
The series, which he co-created with Peep Show’s Simon Blackwell and comedian Chris Addison, stars Freeman and Daisy Haggard (Back to Life) and will explore the complicated emotions that come with parenthood.
Television, he explains, “is where most of us experience popular culture and storytelling.
“As long as humans keep telling each other stories, I think that’s the important thing. There’s that sort of box in your house they can come out of, it’s still kind of amazing.”
A Confession airs on Monday 2 September at 9pm on ITV.