The following is a guest post written by the President of the Vancouver Sherlock Holmes society, The Stormy Petrels.
It has come to my attention that there are two new Sherlock Holmes movies in the works. This is always good news to Sherlockians – fans of the great detective.
Downey, who earned raves for the action blockbuster hit Iron Man this spring, has signed on to play the iconic literary sleuth in an upcoming film directed by British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, Warner Bros. announced on Thursday. [CBC]
However, the casting of the main character is critical. Sherlockians are very protective of Sherlock Holmes, and he must be portrayed as the author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, had described him. Physical characteristics can be altered somewhat by movie magic, from his tall, thin stature, to his hawk-like nose, but the mannerisms and quirkiness must be adapted to a fault. The casting of the title role is crucial to the movieâ€™s success. Needless to day, the movies will be judged with many keen eyes.
Hundreds of Sherlock Holmes movies and plays have been adapted or written for stage and screen and the list of actors portraying the detective is as varied as the plot lines.
John Barrymore, Orson Wells, John Gielgud, Peter Cushing, Christopher Plummer, Roger Moore, Raymond Massey, Charlton Heston, George C. Scott, Michael Caine, Rupert Everett, Matt Frewer, to name just a few actors who have taken on the title role.
The most well-known, and one of the most popular actors as Sherlock Holmes is Basil Rathbone in the 1930â€™s and 1940â€™s. Although, except for â€œThe Hound of the Baskervillesâ€, the stories did not follow the originals very closely.
It was not until the 1980â€™s when a Grenada TV series introduced Jeremy Brett to the role of Sherlock Holmes, to great critical acclaim. This series sparked much renewed interest in Sherlock Holmes Societies around the globe. The stories resembled the original writings and Sherlockians were very pleased as Brett had the character down perfectly.
Actors have been and will always be compared to Rathbone and Brett. Nearly all have and will fail in their attempts. Recently, very poor choices have been made to cast the role. These movies have all been panned by Sherlockians based on this factor alone.
I get the sense that comical portrayals, such as the up-coming movie starring Sasha Baron Cohn (â€œBoratâ€) as Holmes will not be popular among Sherlock Holmes fans. Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes? I think it unlikely. Sherlockians are still waiting for the next great Holmesian performance.
Update: May 2009 – the trailer for the film has been released:
Update: Apparently Brad Pitt is already in talks about playing Moriarty in the sequel.