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Robert Downey Jr. Talks About Finding Sherlock Holmes

by
August 20, 2008

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. is one of two big actors coming up who will play the legendary Sherlock Holmes on the big screen, the other being Sacha Baron Cohen. As we announced first back in early July, British filmmaker Guy Ritchie has cast Downey Jr. in his film about the classic British super sleuth and plans to show us a much different version of Holmes than we might all be familiar with. Premiere caught up briefly with Downey Jr. recently and talked with the actor about the kind of character he'd be playing, who he says is a buff bare-knuckle boxer and martial arts expert in addition to a detective. Although they're not shooting until October, it's refreshing to hear him talking about finding thi character already.

Downey Jr. explains that this will be like Zack Snyder's 300, "the idea of doing a period piece where you don't modernize it, you just realize how modern it was." He adds of this film, that "in 1891, it was incredibly modern. And Sherlock Holmes is such a great character to be able to play." Imagining a world with Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes that Guy Ritchie has dreamt up definitely excites me, because Ritchie is such a unique and stylistic director. And Downey Jr. assures us that this isn't going to be a stylized period piece like we all-too-often see with films like Elizabeth: The Golden Age. "I love the idea of doing a period piece without trying to be too stylized." He also adds more about the physicality of the character.

"We're both martial arts enthusiasts and historically, in the real origin stories of Sherlock Holmes, he's kind of a bad-ass and a bare-knuckle boxer and studies the rare art of baritsu [fictional martial art created by Doyle for the final Holmes story, 1901's The Adventure Of The Empty House]. If you look baritsu up, they can't even really tell you what it is, so it gives us a lot of leeway."

If you've seen Tropic Thunder, you know how quickly Downey Jr. can go from playing a superhero like Tony Stark to an Australian actor embodying a black solider named Sgt. Osiris. And I'm guessing we'll see another perfectly formed character from Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes as well. He finishes up with a rather nerve-wracking statement about struggling to still find the character with just a few weeks left before the cameras roll, but we all know he'll pull it off. "Here I am, promoting a movie while my heart says I should not be promoting Tropic Thunder at all because I need to have my ham radio going for Sherlock Holmes. It's mandatory that I get this inspiration, and what if I miss that train? I'll be depriving the moviegoing public of what it is that I promise them I'll be able to do, which is, more often than not, deliver."

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  • Ginger
    How much does Downey Jr. look like Clifton Collins Jr. in this photo! They should seriously play brothers in a film!
  • RStewie
    I'm really excited about Downey's "comeback". He's a great actor, and I'm absolutely going to see any film he's in. Unlike some actors, it seems he got the knack of picking winners every time. Also, I'm happy to see Ritchie is the one re-introducing the Sherlock Holmes story. He's a great storyteller, and I love his movies. This is going to be on my must-see list, for sure.
  • Randy
    RDJ can pull off any role thrown at him, I'm excited to see him as the "new" Sherlock Holmes.
  • Buttons
    i am excited. Especially after Ironman, the zodiac, charlie bartlett and tropic thunder he can do anything.
  • JL
    You should also see Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang if you haven't already. He and Val Kilmer play off each other really well in that one.
  • daniel
    To: #1 uh..... isn't that guy mexican or something? I guess I don't see the connection. I mean, he did kinda look like Michael Jordan in T.Thunder, maybe they should do a movie a together... .. that was of course sarcastic
  • Viper
    In response to the first sentence in this post... Cohen is not a "big actor."
  • Shane
    To preface my post, I love RDJ and I love Guy Ritchie, but I can't see how turning Sherlock Holmes into an action hero is a good idea. In the article, all you hear about is how he is a "bare knuckle" brawler and a martial arts expert, no mention of him being a detective which is the absolute focus of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I can understand showing his ability to box and that he wasn't a pussy, but if the detective piece of it isn't in the forefront, the movie will be an epic failure.
  • Tim "Cloverfield"
    Well, since RD Jr. was the only saving grace in the worthless waste of time "Thunder"..( as Red disagrees)..he is the man. Very excited about this project. It is obvious this will be a challange with the phyisical and mental prowness of this legendary character.....Ritchie can pull this off as well.
  • Kevin fitzgibbon
    I've just returned from doing a fitting in London for the sherlock holmes movie. Some amazing outfits i had to wear, and great fun. I could feel the characyer coming out in those very sherlock garments. Look forward to maybe some background work with the film soon.
  • http://www.bartitsu.org Tony Wolf
    "Baritsu" is a typographical error for the real Edwardian-era martial art of Bartitsu, which was founded by E.W. Barton-Wright in 1899. It combined jujitsu, English boxing, French savate and walking stick fighting. Bartitsu has been revived in recent years - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartitsu .
  • Violet
    I'm really looking forward to this movie, having read the Sherlock Holmes canon multiple times, I really like the sound of his take on the main character (people always seem to forget how mad and interesting he was)! I hope he pulls it off (Holmes had better come across as a damn genius), I'm totally over seeing stodgy portrayals of the most enduringly kick-ass character in fiction, bring on RDJ!
  • Hallo World
    I just read that the sequel, "Brokeback Baker Street," has already started production. According to the script that has leaked onto the Internet, Holmes and Watson start a passionate liaison, meeting regularly at 221B. Mrs. Hudson opens the door and finds them in a passionate embrace. Holmes grabs a candlestick and strikes her dead. Holmes and Watson attempt to cover up the crime, but Holmes's brother Mycroft suspects the truth. Finally, Mycroft confronts Holmes, who challenges him to a cage fight. In the climactic final sequence, with Watson clinging to the bars of the cage, Holmes lifts Mycroft over his head and body-slams him to the floor, killing him instantly. Doesn't that sound GREAT?

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