Interview by Morgan Jeffery
There’s just two days to wait until Sherlock is back on our screens, and we’ve reached our final cast interview!
But now it’s time for the big man – Sherlock himself, actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Digital Spy and a few other excited journalists caught up with the star – in the midst of shooting series two – to discuss his return as the super sleuth. Read on for insights into Sherlock, his friends and his greatest foe…
Does it feel good coming back to a show that’s an established success?
“Yeah, very. Although because we had such a nice reception first time round, expectations are high. We want to keep it evolving as much as we can, within the parameters we set ourselves – which are obviously to do with being loyal to the original [Conan Doyle stories] and what we set out to do with this series.
“It has evolved, which is great, but people who want some more [like the first series] will not be disappointed.”
Are you excited about tackling the most iconic stories in the Holmes canon?
“Yeah, very, very excited! There’s a weight of expectation, but it’s brilliant, because those are the [stories] that everyone is most familiar with. Again, there’s trepidation and [you feel] a responsibility because people have a very set idea in their minds of what those stories are – what the outcome is, the relationships…
“But the scripts I’ve read have been fantastic. They’re just brilliantly imaginative, engaging and witty. They’re utterly loyal to the intention of the original, but are thoroughly fresh and perky. So any fears I had were allayed instantly.”
What’s the relationship like between Sherlock and Moriarty this year?
“It’s fantastic. Andrew [Scott] and I are great friends and I’ve always admired his talent – I just think he’s a phenomenal actor. There is a parity [to those scenes] which makes it less Sherlock-heavy, which is enjoyable to play – it’s nice to have an equal in the room.
“That’s part of what the third episode is about. It’s the weight of bitterness that Sherlock has built up through his behaviour with his ‘un-equals’ – the police force and the rest of them. There’s a lot of people who have him in their sights.”
Does Sherlock’s relationship with Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) show a different side to the character?
“Yeah. One of the things I want to do definitely is to be bold enough to evolve him, but I think you have to be very careful about moving so far away from the original that he becomes something utterly new. That’s where mistakes have been made in the past with interpretations of Holmes.
“He’s an established fictional figure and there’s a reason for that – it works. So if you meddle too much with the mechanics of it, it comes undone. The idea of him having feelings – whatever they might be – for a member of the opposite sex is a breath of fresh air for the actor playing him, but not necessarily the right thing for the character.”
Do you think Sherlock is gradually becoming more human?
“You do have moments where he’s being a complete sociopath and low-spectrum autistic, in the sense of not understanding or having any idea of what empathy is. There are insensitivities in his methods which are still very much fresh in the memory from the first series.
“But, without giving too much away, I think definitely there is a level of humanisation. But we still remain true to this calculating logic machine, this incredible man who can solve and find solutions in the everyday by not being involved in the everyday.
“I don’t think his core fabric is ever really changed by what he’s experienced. But in comparison to Moriarty, he has more of a heart definitely!”
Is John (Martin Freeman) better at handling Sherlock in series two?
“I think he is, yeah. I think he is a little bit more in control of their relationship. There’s an understanding and a balance definitely, from them having been at it for about six / nine months.
“But I think Sherlock is still capable of surprising and shocking him. I don’t think Sherlock, however affectionate he is towards Watson, is someone who’s likely to be changed by corrective analysis. I mean, he’s kept in check by him and he’s able to function better – that’s why they’re such a good team.”
What’s your experience been like with Sherlock fans?
“It’s been really nice. By and large, it’s been incredibly benign, because there’s such a love for the programme, which is terrific. It’s odd being recognised as a fictional character. If people ask, ‘Are you Sherlock Holmes?’, it’s horribly naff, but I say, ‘I’m not, I just look a bit like him’ – which is how I feel. There are bad attributes of his that I really don’t share!”
Are you keen to star in a third series of Sherlock?
“I really enjoy doing it, and that’s all I’m going to say on that!”