Movies:Movie Profiles:Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Director(s): Guy Ritchie

Writer(s): Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg

Cast: , , Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly, William Houston and Hans Matheson

Release Date(s)

Dec 25, 2009 - Wide

Sherlock Holmes and his good friend Dr. Watson regularly consult with Scotland Yard on some of the toughest crimes faced by Scotland Yard. This time, they’re facing one of their toughest cases. They’ve already caught the evil Lord Blackwood, but he seems to have escaped death by hanging and the population of London panics thinking evil is afoot. Of course, this is just the sort of puzzle that Sherlock Holmes loves to solve.

Robert Downey Jr., who starred in the blockbuster Iron Man, sees Sherlock Holmes as a superhero too. “He was probably the first superhero, an intellectual superhero,” says the Oscar®-nominated actor. “He was, and probably still is, one of the most recognizable icons on Earth, so much so that a lot of people actually thought that Sherlock Holmes was a real person. The more you look into Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, the more you see what a rich character Sherlock Holmes is. He’s very adept at so many things: he plays violin, he’s a martial artist, a boxer, an expert single stick fighter and a swordsman of sorts. He has a strong moral code in helping good guys catch bad guys, so he has dedicated his life to being a consulting detective. He doesn’t do it to show everyone how smart he is, or that he has figured everything else out when they haven’t; he’s actually a crusader.”

Guy Ritchie, the director of this particular enterprise, delved into the books and discovered that Holmes was a more active figure than the quiet figure sometimes portrayed in prior films. “We’ve tried to take him back to what we believe to be his origin, which is essentially a more visceral character,” says Ritchie. “We’ve tried to integrate that and make him more streetwise. He is inquisitive about chemistry, martial arts, and the human condition. Yet he managed to percolate through all the different echelons of English society, which was tremendously complex. But then, as now, Sherlock Holmes is unique; there’s really no one else like him. I think that’s why his appeal has stuck. And while our story is rooted in London of the 1890s, we have tried to make it as contemporary as we possibly can.”

Jude Law, who plays Sherlock’s long-suffering but loyal ally Dr. Watson, loves the combination of intelligence and action. “It’s certainly an adventure, just as the stories seemed to me when I first read them,” adds Law. “There’s still the cerebral intrigue and science and suspense of the original stories, but there’s also the brawling and mayhem that is faithfully brought in from the novels. My great hope is that Conan Doyle fans really enjoy it because I’ve become a huge fan myself and am very respectful of the legacy. I do think we’ve been faithful, but we’ve also injected our characters with dimensions that have never been brought out before. Guy Ritchie is brilliant at making drama physical and incredibly skilled at keeping the energy high.”

Law’s character has often been portrayed as a bit of a fool, but this is not the case in this version, according to producer Lionel Wigram. “He’s a war veteran just back from the Afghan war; he’s been wounded and has been through hardship. He’s a strong, physical man and he knows how to handle himself. Although he’s not a mad genius like Holmes, he’s a very clever man.”

Law and Downey Jr. had immediate chemistry, which worked perfectly for their characters. “I think the essence I wanted to bring—and what I know Guy and Robert looked to me for—was a yin, if you like, to Holmes’s yang,” Law says. “Robert and I talked a lot about how we could balance out each other’s characters so that together they make a perfect whole, and many of the descriptions of the two of them in the books convey that they are incredibly powerful together because they support each other so, and their friendship is so deeply rooted. We could also at times be incredibly humorous because there’s a part of Holmes that infuriates Watson and vice versa.”

You can see the results of this chemistry when Sherlock Holmes is released in North America on Christmas Day 2009.