Best known to American audiences for his often "hissable" portrayals of duplicitous Germans, Russians and other suspiciously refined Europeans. Freeeman earned a small footnote in Hollywood history playing Rene Belloq, the suave but treacherous French archeologist rival of Harrison Ford's Dr. Indiana Jones, in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Primetime soap buffs also may remember him as Gustav Reibmann, head of the shadowy international syndicate The Cartel, who was exceptionally vicious in his attempts to find wartime Nazi booty on Falcon Crest (CBS, 1984-85). Freeman embodied slime of another sort as Ivan Ooze, the monstrous villain of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995). Though the film was a box-office success, Freeman's heavy make-up made him all but unrecognizable.
A London native, Freeman started out in advertising but his heart was already on the stage as he spent his spare hours in amateur theater groups. He discovered that the government offered grants for teacher training and that such training included drama. Though equipped to teach drama, Freeman found himself teaching everything but as a substitute during acting lulls. He worked in repertory in England and Scotland with increasing frequency before going on to understudy and play small roles at London's Royal Court Theatre. Freeman was a founding member of Joint Stock, a leading "radical" theater company that put on such productions as David Hare's "Fanshen" and Howard Brenton's "Epsom Downs". He next joined the National Theatre for Hare's "Plenty" and other productions before segueing to British TV and films.
Freeman made his film debut with a supporting role in the gangster drama The Long Good Friday (1980) and quickly followed up with The Dogs of War (also 1980) before searching for that mythical ark. Unfortunately the success of "Raiders" failed to place him on the Hollywood A-list. (He had expected to appear in the "prequel" but Lucas and Spielberg went with another story.) Still, he kept busy as a character player, appearing in both European and Hollywood features as well as in a number of TV projects in the US and the UK.