Sherlock Holmes is an upcoming 2009 film adaptation of Arthur Conan
Doyle's fictional character of the same name. Guy Ritchie will direct the film,
while Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey and Dan Lin will produce the
film. Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg will write the
screenplay based on Lionel Wigram's story and Doyle's characters. Robert Downey
Jr. will portray Holmes and Jude Law will portray John Watson. The film will be
released on December 25, 2009.
Set in 1891, the film revolves around Holmes
(Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) stopping a conspiracy to destroy
Britain. The film opens with Holmes apprehending the murderous cult leader Lord
Blackwood (Mark Strong), who promises he will return from the dead and exact his
revenge as he is being led to the gallows.
In May 2009, Warner Bros. released its official plot summary:
“ In a dynamic new portrayal of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous characters,
Sherlock Holmes sends Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson on their latest
challenge. Revealing fighting skills as lethal as his legendary intellect,
Holmes will battle as never before to bring down a new nemesis and unravel a
deadly plot that could destroy the country. ”
The full synopsis released in July included the following:
“ The action-adventure mystery Sherlock Holmes is helmed by acclaimed filmmaker
Guy Ritchie, for Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures. Robert
Downey Jr. brings the legendary detective to life, and Jude Law stars as Holmes'
trusted colleague, Watson, a doctor and war veteran who is a formidable ally for
Sherlock Holmes. Rachel McAdams stars as Irene Adler, the only woman ever
to have bested Holmes and who has maintained a tempestuous relationship with the
detective. Mark Strong stars as their mysterious new adversary, Blackwood. Kelly
Reilly plays Watson's love interest, Mary.
With a screenplay by Michael Robert Johnson and
Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg, screen story by Lionel Wigram and Michael
Robert Johnson, the film is produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan
Downey, Dan Lin and Steve Clark-Hall. Michael Tadross and Bruce Berman serve as
In theaters December 25, 2009, Sherlock Holmes will be distributed
worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in
selected territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
- Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes. Downey
was visiting Joel Silver's offices with his wife, producer Susan Downey, when
he learned about the project. Ritchie initially felt Downey was too old for
the role because he wanted the film to show a younger Holmes on a learning
curve like Batman Begins. However, Ritchie decided to take a chance on casting
him in the role, and Downey told the BBC that "I think me and Guy are
well-suited to working together. The more I look into the books, the more
fantastic it becomes. Holmes is such a weirdo." Downey also revealed what his
wife had to say: "that when you read the description of the guy – quirky and
kind of nuts – it could be a description of me." Downey intends to focus more
on Holmes' patriotic side and his bohemianism, and felt that his work on
Chaplin has prepared him for an English accent. Ritchie feels his accent is
"flawless". Both Downey and Ritchie are martial arts enthusiasts, and have
been inspired by the bartitsu mentioned in the 1901 story The Adventure of
the Empty House. Downey lost weight for the part, because during a chat he
had with Chris Martin, Martin recommended that Holmes look "gaunt" and
- Jude Law as Dr. John Watson, Holmes'
ally, a surgeon and a war veteran. Law is not portraying the bumbling fool
that actor Nigel Bruce popularized in the 1930s–40s films. Law previously
appeared in the Granada Television series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,
in an episode based on The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place. Being a Holmes
fan, Law recognized there was material unexplored in other adaptations and was
intrigued by Downey's casting; Law was cast because he had a positive meeting
with Downey and concurred the film would have to explore Holmes and Watson's
friendship. Downey believed by emphasizing Watson's qualities as a former
soldier, a doctor, a womanizer and a gambler, it would make for a more
interesting foil for Holmes. Law made a notebook of phrases from the stories
to improvise into his dialogue. Ritchie originally envisioned Russell Crowe in
- Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, a
femme fatale from New Jersey who once outwitted Holmes, earning his grudging
respect. In the film, Adler is no longer married to Godfrey Norton and needs
Holmes' help for the case. Downey convinced Ritchie to cast McAdams, arguing
she would not look too young to be his love interest.
- Mark Strong as Lord Blackwood, a
Satanist lord and the main antagonist.
- Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan. Watson
wishes to settle down with her, causing a conflict with Holmes.
- Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade.
Producer Lionel Wigram remarked that for around ten years, he had been
thinking of new ways to depict Sherlock Holmes. "I realized the images I was
seeing in my head when reading the stories were different to the images I'd seen
in previous films." He imagined "a much more modern, more bohemian character,
who dresses more like an artist or a poet", namely Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
After leaving his position as executive for Warner Bros. in 2006, Wigram sought
a larger scope to the story so it could attract a large audience, and
amalgamated various Holmes stories to flesh it out further. Lord Blackwood is
based on Aleister Crowley, which was due to Doyle's own fascination with the
occult. The producer felt he was "almost clever" pitting Holmes, who has an
almost supernatural ability to solve crimes, against a supposedly supernatural
villain. Wigram wrote and John Watkiss drew a 25-page comic book about Holmes in
place of a spec script. Professor Moriarty's existence is hinted in the script
to set up the sequels.
In March 2007, Warner Bros. chose to produce, seeing similarities in the concept
with Batman Begins. Arthur Conan Doyle's estate had some involvement in sorting
out legal issues, although the stories are in the public domain in the United
States. Neil Marshall was set to direct, but Guy Ritchie signed on to direct in
June 2008. When a child at boarding school, Ritchie and other pupils listened to
the Holmes stories through dormitory loudspeakers. "Holmes used to talk me to
sleep every night when I was seven years old," he said. Therefore, his image of
Holmes differed from the films. He wanted to make his film more "authentic" to
Doyle, explaining, "There's quite a lot of intense action sequences in the
stories, and sometimes that hasn't been reflected in the movies." Holmes'
"brilliance will percolate into the action", and the film will show that his
"intellect was as much of a curse as it was a blessing". Ritchie sought to make
Sherlock Holmes a "very contemporary film as far as the tone and texture",
because it has been "a relatively long time since there's been a film version
that people embraced".
Filming began in October 2008. The crew shot at Freemasons' Hall and St Paul's
Cathedral. Filming was done in Manchester's Northern Quarter, while the Town
Hall was used for a fight scene (which required smashing stained glass windows).
They shot the opening scene for three days at St Bartholomew-the-Great church in
London, and shot on the river Thames at Wapping for a scene involving a
steamboat on 7 November. Filming continued at Stanley Dock and Clarence Dock in
Liverpool. In late November 2008, stunt man Robert Maillet was filming a fight
scene at Chatham Dockyard in Kent, and accidentally punched Robert Downey, Jr.
in the face, causing Downey to be bloodied and knocked down, but not knocked
unconscious as originally reported. The Sun reported that on November 28, a tank
truck caught fire, forcing filming to stop for two hours. When filming at St
John's Street in December, the schedule had to be shortened from 13 to nine days
because locals complained about how they would have always have to park cars
elsewhere during the shoot. In January 2009, filming moved to Brooklyn.
Ritchie wanted his Holmes' costume to play against the popular image of the
character, joking "there is only one person in history who ever wore a
deerstalker". Downey selected the character's fedora. The director kept to the
tradition of making Holmes and Watson's apartment quite messy, and had it
decorated with artifacts and scientific objects from the continents they would
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