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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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.

Star Trek Into Darkness: TF (Indonesia) Interview: Benedict Cumberbatch

THE TOTAL FILM (INDONESIA) INTERVIEW: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

Scientist. Dragon. Spy. Name the role and he’ll be on a roll (brilliantly, too). As one of the most talented British actor of today, Benedict Cumberatch has stolen a million hearts as Sherlock Holmes. Now he’ll steal a lot more as the main villain in Star Trek Into Darkness. But he denies, “I don’t feel like a villain…

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PORTRAIT BRIAN BOWEN SMITH

KHAAAAAAN! Khan? Not quite. John Harrison? Debatable. You’ll have to forgive us if even until now we still can’t believe the name of the character Benedict Cumberbatch plays in J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi extravaganza Star Trek Into Darkness, a sequel to the franchise’s 2009 reboot Star Trek, is actually called John Harrison. Considering this is a movie by the master of twisted turns such as Abrams, we reserve the right to remain skeptical until we sit inside a cinema and directly watch the film.

But what we’ll never be skeptical about is the actor acting the villain. Cumberbatch, with acting blood in his veins, is not just any actor. If he’s got a legion of female admirers (and perhaps a few male ones too), we are entirely unsurprised. His eyes and cheekbones can really cut through the heart of many… and who doesn’t like a charming, intelligent Brit man with plenty of wit? Which is why it comes as a surprise that this London-born thesp (born 19 July 1976) built the earlier part of his career out of playing prats, like that pompous windbag Patrick Watts in Starter For 10 and molester Paul Marshall in Atonement. Even now, his new roles are still leaning towards the evil: recently Islington in BBC 4 Radio Extra’s Neverwhere, Smaug the dragon and The Necromancer in The Hobbit, and of course ‘John Harrison’.

When we first saw him in BBC’s Sherlock, we almost couldn’t believe that this detective was fleshed out by the same man who brought scientist Stephen Hawking in Hawking (2004). The transition from a smart and sympathetic figure like Hawking to an arrogant investigator with little to no moral conscience, though, does prove one thing: that despite having an army of fans as widespread as NATO’s military units (maybe even beyond), Cumberbatch has given evidence that he is a quality actor rich in experience, range and particular charisma.

Watching him act is a one of a kind experience (when we watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where he assisted Gary Oldman that hit Tom Hardy and making small talk with Colin Firth, our row was shamelessly noisy, doling out praises), and John Harrison – or whoever his name is – appears set to be his most entertaining role ever since Sherlock Holmes. It is ironic, then, that his actor parents (Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham) wanted their son to be a lawyer. What would cinema be without Cumberbatch? Although, from the way he evades STID spoilers, we’re very sure he’d make a good lawyer too… Continue reading