British actor and comedian Stephen Fry has rarely been so excited to be lazy.
But as part of the cast of the sequel Sherlock Holmes 2, Fry gets to pour all of his energy into playing Victorian literature’s most famously brilliant but solidly sedentary deductive mind.
“I play Mycroft, Sherlock Holmes' brother – the smarter brother, I hasten to add,” said Fry. “He's so lazy that he never gets the reputation that Sherlock does.”
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Mycroft Holmes has long been one of the more intriguing characters in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon, with his mysterious and significant role in the British government, his large girth and aversion to physical activity, and utter lack of practicality, despite being his brother Sherlock’s equal – and possible superior – in mental acuity.
“Historically it's a very interesting character, and as a lover of Sherlock Holmes since I was a boy I've always enjoyed that character myself,” said Fry. “I hope that people enjoy it. It's certainly been fun making the picture. I'm on it until January and it's really been fun.”
Fry’s also a fan of director Guy Richie’s inventive reinterpretation of Holmes-ian lore. “It's what known in the Sherlock business as noncanonical. It's not based on the books – It's based on the idea of the characters and the relationships, and I love the way that Guy uses the camera. I love the fluency and speed and the wit and the drive of it."
"It's not exactly Steampunk, but there's a very 21st century angle on Victorian England," he said. "Which of us doesn't love Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett - in particular those two - but he's the kind of character that will be done in 200 years time. They'll be making hologram movies of Sherlock Holmes. He'll never die. He's an imperishable figure. So each age will remake him in their own image, if you like, and I like what Guy did. He's very filmic.”
With his personal appreciation of Holmes as a British icon, Fry admits it did take some doing to wrap his own brain around the notion of an American – in the form of Robert Downey, Jr. - playing the detective. “To some extent, but he's such a charismatic and likeable screen presence, Robert, that you very soon forget it. More than most, he owns every second of screen time. He's just wonderfully likable. He's the real thing.”