Wednesday, December 23, 2009
This is not your father’s Sherlock Holmes.
Guy Ritchie’s take on the iconic detective debuts Friday, and in his hands, Holmes is an action hero.
Robert Downey Jr. discussed the “reinvention” of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved character in a global press conference held at the venerable Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street, where part of the movie was filmed.
Was Downey scared to take on a role played by so many actors, and which comes with so much baggage?
“Scared? I don’t get scared anymore. I just get busy,” he answered.
“It’s just a matter of getting down to business. Fortunately, I’d spent some time here in the late ’80s playing Chaplin and I had a great tutelage in all things British from Lord (Richard) Attenborough. But I definitely felt the onus. It’s not the fear of judgment from others. It’s just at a certain point it comes down to: Will you meet the standards that people are expecting of you?”
Holmes, as generations of readers know, is an eccentric genius with tremendous mood swing. He’s a violin-playing bachelor and, according to Doyle, he often indulged in the “seven percent solution,” which was cocaine.
That last is mentioned but never seen in this movie. Given Downey’s history of drug abuse and rehab, was he behind that omission?
“I love the seven percent solution. It was never a high enough percentage for me,” he joked. “Kind of a weak, tepid solution. But this is a PG-13 movie. And even if it wasn’t, the idea is that if you go back to the source material he’s never described as being some strung-out weirdo.”
He added, “Back in Victorian times, it was absolutely legal and acceptable. You could go down to your corner pharmacist and grab all that stuff. So we thought that it would be irresponsible to not make reference to it. ”