Mark Gatiss on the Enduring Fame & Charm Of Sherlock Holmes

First appeared in totalfilmindonesia.com as “Mark Gatiss di Bab Terakhir Sherlock Musim Ketiga“.

Mark Gatiss on the Enduring Fame & Charm Of Sherlock Holmes

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Reaching the end of BBC’s Sherlock season three (S3), fans are anxious to know of what comes next for the great detective. Luckily there’s a season 4 in the works; co-creator Steven Moffat has confirmed it. No matter how long it takes to make it – as the two leading men of the show are currently busy with their own projects – fans will definitely continue to wait eagerly.

Meanwhile, we can probably wait by checking out all of co-creator and co-writer Mark Gatiss’ favorite Sherlock Holmes incarnations that inspired him and Moffat on the series.

“Our favorite was always Basil Rathbone in the films of the ‘40s because those films seemed to us to have more of the true spirit of Conan Doyle than a lot of the other adaptations,” Gatiss confesses to us via phone from Liverpool. “Having said that, Jeremy Brett was amazing; he was the definitive Sherlock Holmes for a whole generation. We love those stories well and Peter Cushing and Douglas Wilmer in the ‘60s… there are loads and loads of them. But I think the Rathbone and Nigel Bruce films are the ones that we keep coming back to. That plus the Billy Wilder’s film, The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, in 1970. Those are the big touchstones for us.”

Mind you, though he says “favorite”, all of it comes with a bit of disclaimer… “It’s very hard to say because everybody has their favorite and people get very upset if we name someone else!”

In addition to the Guy Ritchie films from 2009 and 2011, plus the American TV series featuring the detective (Elementary), modern audiences are spoiled for choice when it comes to watching Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters in live action format. Gatiss has a good theory on the phenomenon.

“It has to be almost entirely down to the fact that the original stories are so brilliant. Arthur Conan Doyle is a genius writer, probably the best short story writer we’ve ever had. He was just a master of the form,” Gatiss muses.

He also credits Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson’s relationship for being one of the main attractions of the stories. “The characters of Holmes and Watson have endured so much because it’s one of the great friendships in literature and people always respond to that. They shouldn’t be friends but they are and that’s what makes it brilliant. I think the fact that we see Sherlock through Dr. Watson’s eyes, as it were, means that he always appears as a slightly god-like figure. And that’ an enormous part of the appeal.”

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Mark Gatiss Strengthen the Brotherly Bonds of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes

First appeared in totalfilmindonesia.com as “Mark Gatiss mempererat tali persaudaraan Mycroft dan Sherlock Holmes“.

Mark Gatiss Strengthen the Brotherly Bonds of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes

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Playing the much smarter and more mysterious older brother of a “high functioning psychopath” consulting detective must not really be a walk in the part. But for Mark Gatiss, co-creator, co-writer and actor of BBC’s highly popular crime drama Sherlock, it’s as close to an ideal job as he could get.

One of the perks of being one of the two men in charge (the other being Steven Moffat) in the show, while also also acting in it, is that he gets to “change lines at the last minute without asking anybody.”

During our conversation by phone (Total Film Indonesia was in Jakarta, Gatiss in Liverpool), the actor/writer elaborates: “At the last minute, lots of things which might be difficult otherwise can be arranged quite quickly. It’s also great because I’m there on the set every day anyway even when I’m not acting. It’s very useful to be around and make sure that everyone is fully on board with what we’re trying to do in that particular episode. One of the difficult things about filming is that, when you do things several months apart, people might slightly lose track of where they were. They might start the scene being more emotional or something and you have to keep them on track – ‘You remember the scene before this, you were actually quite angry.’ It’s good to have a complete overview of all three stories.”

But what of building Mycroft as a character? Gatiss, who is a big fan of the Arthur Conan Doyle books, has already said that his version of Mycroft Holmes took his cue from Christopher Lee’s character in Billy Wilder’s The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes (1970). There’s apparently something more sinister with Gatiss’ Mycroft, as it is with Lee’s, compared to the one conceived by the author, as the character only appeared in 2 of the original stories. “As with all the characters what we’ve tried to do is give them a bigger life and background than they usually have. Mycroft was only in two of the original stories. And apart from being cleverer than Sherlock and enormously fat, there isn’t much more to it except that he is the British government,” Gatiss explains.

The Holmes brothers may not get along but Gatiss claims that Mycroft is concerned for Sherlock. “They have a much more antagonistic relationship which I think is extremely interesting,” he continues. “There is warmth there somewhere deep down but it’s much more brittle and I think that’s a great thing to play with. What we’re trying to do, as with Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade, and new characters like Molly and Anderson, is to just to broaden it out a bit so you get to know these people as a family, almost.”

One of the smaller, though no less interesting, mysteries of S2’s “The Hounds Of Baskerville” (which Gatiss wrote) was when Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade came to Baskerville to aid Sherlock and John Watson in their investigation. At that time, Sherlock accused him of being sent there on Mycroft’s orders as his “handler”. We asked Gatiss about working with the actor Rupert Graves, who plays Lestrade, and the story behind the accusation.

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Mark Gatiss and the Development of “The Empty Hearse”

First appeared in totalfilmindonesia.com as “Mark Gatiss dan perjalanannya menulis ‘The Empty Hearse’“.

Mark Gatiss and the Development of “The Empty Hearse”

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After being broadcast last January in the UK (on BBC) and the US (PBS), now Sherlock’s much talked about third season (S3) is coming to Asia via AXN Asia.

The BBC series adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective novels has a set of three writers – Steven Moffat (co-creator), Stephen Thompson (co-writer) and Mark Gatiss (also playing, as an actor, Sherlock Holme’s brother Mycroft Holmes).

Gatiss, who co-created the series with Moffat, previously gave us gems such as “The Great Game” episode (S1) and “The Hounds Of Baskerville” (S2). In S3, Gatiss continues his work as an actor and pens the opening episode, “The Empty Hearse”. Here Gatiss will attempt to solve the long anticipated mystery of Sherlock’s resurrection, to give us some answers as to how Benedict Cumberbatch’s titular consulting detective can return to the world of the living after falling off a building.

Ever since the end of S2 in January 2012, the internet has tried its best to circulate all the theories the fans can come up with and Gatiss, as the sole writer of “The Empty Hearse” will have to try hard to match the expectations that rose from those theories. But of course he has already had a plan for quite some time for the season opener.

Gatiss claims that he and Moffat have known what direction they would take for the third season ever since the second season of Sherlock.

We had a very clear idea that the main thing would be the introduction of Mary Morstan as Mrs. Watson,” he explains to us on the phone from Liverpool. “We talked for a long time about doing the story about Charles Augustus Milverton, the blackmailer, which is one of our favorites. And Steven [Moffat] wanted to do that. So we sort of knew that that would be episode 3. And episode 2 would be the wedding. And episode 1 would be the return. And I said I’d like to write it.”

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Mark Gatiss Reigns Over Television with 3 Hit Shows

First appeared in totalfilmindonesia.com as “Mark Gatiss Menguasai Dunia TV dengan 3 Acara Besar“.

Mark Gatiss Reigns Over Television with 3 Hit Shows

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It’s 2014 and your television will seek to occupy more of your time with top notch series. A couple of those coming to viewers in Indonesia are the planet’s biggest shows on TV: Sherlock (a BBC production that is broadcast in Indonesia via AXN Asia) and Game Of Thrones (HBO’s original production broadcast via HBO Asia). Some might wonder, what do these two disparate shows – one is a modern detective story and the other is a historical fantasy drama – have in common besides having hoards of fans? As it turns out they have English actor and writer, Mark Gatiss, in common.

Total Film Indonesia recently talked to the Sherlock co-creator who is about to make his Westeros debut as Tycho Nestoris, a character from the book who is a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos, coming to collect royal debts, in the fourth season of HBO’s Game Of Thrones.

“I might be coming back later on [to GoT] but this is just brief [turn],” says Gatiss by phone from Liverpool.

Playing Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes, the actor also says that his character was inspired by the same characted played by Christopher Lee in Billy Wilder’s The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and decided not by Stephen Fry’s Mycroft in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011). “Stephen’s version of Mycroft is totally different to mine. There’s no need to compare, really, it’s just a different universe,” Gatiss insists. “Stephen’s a very old friend of mine and I know how thrilled he was to be asked to do it. He used to be the youngest member of the Sherlock Holmes society when he was a child. It was a dream come true for him to do it. It’s lovely to think that the world has as many Sherlocks and as many Mycrofts in it.”

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Norman Reedus wants Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead graphic novel

Here’s one of the results of my Singapore The Walking Dead trip: an interview with Norman Reedus. Full coverage will be available in Total Film Indonesia Issue #52 (out this weekend) consisting of a 2-page Norman Reedus interview and a 6-page Andrew Lincoln feature. Earlier today I wrote an introductory piece to those magazine articles for totalfilmindonesia.com (Norman Reedus Ingin Tokohnya Di Serial TV THE WALKING DEAD Masuk Komik). And here’s the English translation of that piece.

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Norman Reedus wants Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead graphic novel

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All The Walking Dead TV fans know that their favorite series comes from Robert T. Kirkman’s popular graphic novels, making this AMC show highly popular and a lot of people’s favorites. But not all the comic book characters are 100% the same to the TV series and vice versa. And one of those characters that exist in the TV series only but not in the comic books in Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon.

Daryl, who made his TWD debut as Michael Rooker’s Merle’s brother, was one of the most interesting characters in Season 1. He started out as somewhat of an antagonist, parroting his big brother who was a real piece of work) but is now Rick Grimes’ (Andrew Lincoln) trusted lieutenant.

Total Film Indonesia caught up with Reedus in Singapore last month and we talked about Daryl’s transformation in the past four seasons.

I think once… I think he was going to be Merle. I think he was going to grow up being Merle and once Merle was sort of out of the picture, it sort of allowed him to not be sort of embarrassed to who he was going to become and slowly… and the situation that they’re all in [allows him to say] ‘it’s okay to be you’. I think he sort of learned that late in life and I think he sort of found a family in a lot of ways for the first time.

But he doesn’t think Daryl is in any way ‘softening up’.  “So I think that’s his way of softening up. But he’ll still stab you if look at him wrong,” Reedus said.

Also, don’t call him a ‘douchebag’. (Another reporter conveyed a fan question to Reedus that used this word. Reedus’ reaction was incredulous and perhaps a little annoyed.)  “Douchebag? DOUCHEBAG?That’s a bit harsh! Give me that guy’s address!” he quipped with a little shake of his head.

The most important question on the table, though, is this: is Robert T. Kirkman, the graphic novelist who is also involved as a writer and producer in the TV series, going to put Daryl in the comic book? Does Reedus know anything about the status of Daryl’s graphic novel existence?

You know, I’ve offered to wash Robert Kirkman’s car, I’ve offered to sleep with him, whatever it takes… but, God, I don’t know. I mean I would love to be in the graphic novel.  I would love to but that’s a Robert decision. The only thing he’s said to me is “STOP ASKING ME ABOUT IT.”

We reckon that all the fans who want Kirkman to put Daryl in The Walking Dead comic book should stop asking and just offer the author a huge favor… anybody up for washing those cars?

More on Norman Reedus and his The Walking Dead character can be found in Total Film Indonesia #52 (coming out this weekend). TWD is playing on Fox Movies Premium in Asia. New episodes are broadcast every Monday morning at 10.30 AM (Indonesia time) and replayed on the same day at 19.10.

Sue Vertue on BBC Sherlock’s unique position and Cumberbatch’s nose

I interviewed Sherlock producer Sue Vertue in November 2013 about the BBC series. The report of the interview is a cover story in Total Film Indonesia Issue #50 (our golden edition, celebrating the 50th issue of the magazine). The piece below is a news piece for totalfilmindonesia.com (Sue Vertue Berkomentar tentang keunikan BBC Sherlock dan hidung Cumberbatch) This is the English translation of that piece.

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Sue Vertue on BBC Sherlock’s unique position and Cumberbatch’s nose

by AMANDA AAYUSYA

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The 2-year long wait is over… Sherlock finally returned to BBC since its second season ended somewhat enigmatically in January 2012. The first episode in the third series, “The Empty Hearse”, has collected almost 10 million viewers in the UK when it aired on 1 January 2014.

Sherlock is coming to Indonesia via AXN Asia channel, starting 27 February 2014 (every Thursday, 21.00 WIB). Total Film Indonesia has 4 pages on the Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (also playing Sherlock’s brother Mycroft in the series) show in the latest edition, Issue 51.

We spoke to producer Sue Vertue about the popular detective series. Vertue gave us her opinion on why BBC’s Sherlock is highly anticipated, especially among its ‘rivals’. The US has their own modern-day Sherlock Holmes in Elementary, while director Guy Ritchie released two big screen versions of Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr.

“We’re unique because we only make three episodes every two years,” Vertue said with a laugh. “I think we have the unique position of having two such fanboys [Moffat and Gatiss] and they are such fanboys that also write and also know each other. I think everything they try to sneak in so many little original references to please themselves and this seems to have pleased everybody else.”

She continued, “We chuck everything at it, every production value at it, put the best directors that we can get, I think the cast is outstanding, and we make them every now and then. We’re not really in competition with anything else. There’s always room for all of us.”

BBC’s Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, was described by Vertue as “slightly out of this world”, in the sense that he’s “one of those people you’d love to invite to your dinner party but you dread him coming to the party.”

Speaking of Cumberbatch… “He was the only one we ever saw for the role,” said Vertue. “Apparently when he told his mother that he was going to be Sherlock Holmes, she said, ‘But you can’t be Sherlock Holmes, your nose isn’t big enough!’”

For more on Sherlock S3 and the rest of our interview with Sue Vertue, check out Total Film Indonesia Issue 50.

Favorites Of The Year 2013: Movies

It was tough picking my favorite movies of 2013. The problem is not because there aren’t any films to choose from, but I feel that 2013 has not been a very festive year for movies. For example, there weren’t many good animation and musicals. Most of the sci-fi films  were a disappointment despite this year’s unprecedented number of original and adapted sci-fi scripts. And let’s not even talk about Indonesian films – none of them made it into my list this year.

The ones I did pick, however, to be in the Top 10, I believe to be truly in a league of their own. The rest are okay; some are guilty pleasures and many others are important movies that I felt were educational for myself personally. What’s interesting is that I have movies in this list played by the same actors. Martin Freeman, Luke Evans, Vin Diesel, Chris Hemsworth, Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba. Apparently, my taste is kind of obvious!

Favorite Movies of 2013

Note: The movies listed here aren’t all released in 2013, but I watched them all this year.

1. Gravity

Despite having only watched it once, Gravity tops this list simply because it’s a stunning movie. It has the guise of a scientific story with shiny and highly advanced special effects but the story is really about loss and grief, accepting and overcoming it, and then finally moving on. With a terrific performance by Sandra Bullock (if she doesn’t win an award for this role, I will hate award committees everywhere), and an entertaining turn by George Clooney, Gravity is a thrilling space adventure and a truly inspirational story. As brilliant as the sweeping 13-minute non-stop opening shot is, my favorite bit is the ending. Truly brilliant. I salute you, Alfonso Cuarón!

2. Pacific Rim

The Mexican domination continues in this list as Guillermo del Toro gives me my first favorite movie of the year. Pacific Rim is, on top of all, an achievement of vision, innovation and ideas. This is the movie that teaches us to dream so big, so crazy, that it makes sense. It is also a love letter to the mecha and Kaiju genre that del Toro and many of his fans, myself included, grew up with. I will be forever grateful to him for giving us Mako Mori (played by Rinko Kikuchi), one of the most badass female characters in an action movie ever. And good Lord, all those beautiful Jaegers… move over, Transformers! Clearly, you don’t stand a chance against Gipsy, Striker, Crimson and Cherno!

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