Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows
Stars Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, director Guy Ritchie and producers Joel Silver and Lionel Wigram talk about their new movie Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows. Just don’t call it a bromance…
Movie press conferences are a decidedly odd, artificial affair. To plug their latest film, a platoon of efficient PRs offer up ill-at-ease cast members, directors and producers to an expectant congregation of journalists, normally in some posh Mayfair hotel.
Everyone’s on their best behaviour. The stars appear sober and are able to fake being relaxed, good-naturedly giving up mildly amusing anecdotes about the film they’ve just made while talking about the quality of the work. As if they’ve just played Lear rather than a spandexed superhero.
The journalists are all on their best behaviour too because they want to be asked back. They’re not going to rock the boat, they’re not going to ask anything embarrassing, anything that’ll offend the talent. Questions about which alien deity they’re currently worshipping or that mishap with the ladyboy hooker in Java will go unasked. Everyone’s a little guarded, a little bit defensive, but if we all just pull together and stick to the script, we’ll get through this together. It’s refreshing then, when someone like Robert Downey Jr is on the panel. Downey Jr is the real deal; a Hollywood movie star who genuinely seems to love what he’s doing and is enthusiastic not just about the film but the chance to work with co-star Jude Law again.
“He doesn’t like it when you say bromance,” he jokes.
“I think it belittles it,” says Law “It’s more than that!”
“People talk about chemistry, and what does that really mean. We were just having lunch and trying to figure it out,” continues Downey Jr. “We're really grateful it comes across that way. We work really hard, and we have respect for each other. We've seen, and been in, sequels that sucked, and we wanted to try and avoid those pitfalls.”
“I think also,” says Law, “no matter how happy and harmonious and creative the first film was for us as a group, it is always true to say that 20 or 30 per cent of a film is taken up at the beginning, getting to know each other.
“And you end on a high, knowing how each other works, so it never felt like we dropped the ball from the first to the second.
“We never assumed we were going to make the second, but there was a lot of energy carried from the first film into the second, and a lot of enthusiasm for these relationships that worked, and we wanted to flesh them out a little more.”
Part of the attraction of the Sherlock Holmes movies for both actor was the chance to take such iconic characters in a new direction.
Says Downey Jr: “From the minute we met, when Guy got us together, hoping we would hit it off, we cracked a book and started getting chills: hey, Watson was never this chubby old doofus with his foot in a waste paper basket. He was dynamic, he was in the army. Holmes never wore a deerstalker hat. We had a chance to, not rewrite the history of Holmes, but to extrapolate from the untapped actual history.”
“You can compare Holmes and Watson to great Shakespearean characters in a way,” says Law. “They've been played by hundreds of actors over the years, and each one is a different interpretation - the source material can take that form of interpretation. This is ours.”
Having witnessed some terrible sequels over the years (Iron Man 2 anyone?), the team were keen that A Game Of Shadows wouldn’t just be a joyless retread of the first film.
“The idea was always to try to make something fresh and original, whilst still maintaining the experience of the first movie,” says producer Joel Silver. Responsible for some of the biggest hits of the last 30 years (The Matrix, the Lethal Weapon movies), Silver is an old-style Hollywood producer, a scrapper, the kind of creative producer who’s determined to make the best picture he can.
“We all have our favourite sequels, but there aren’t that many. We have all been involved in making more than the one movie,” says Silver. “You always feel the second one is really critical, because that is the one that continues the saga.
“They are starting Bond 23 now and I don’t see why we can’t do Sherlock 23. But that means doing 21 more movies!
“This is very impressive, that we put together a movie that doesn’t feel like we are just carbon copying the first picture; it feels in many ways better than the first movie. It is bigger and more exciting and it lets the audience enjoy these characters.”
Having shot to fame as the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows is the first big Hollywood movie Noomi Rapace has been part of but she’s taking it in her stride.
“I think the biggest step for me was to step into the English language, because I didn't speak English two and half, three years ago,” says Rapace.
“So, I was afraid I was going to be caught up in a prison of having to translate everything from Swedish into English, and not be able to improvise and adlib and live in the language.
“It's thanks to those boys - the way they worked and the way they embraced me, and the way Warners took care of me.
“It felt like everyone just grabbed me and pulled me in, and I forgot I was nervous. It felt like I became one of the boys. I forgot it was not my language.”
“We were really fortunate to have new blood with Noomi,” says Downey Jr.
“As, humble as she's being, she came in and mastered a second language inside a year.
“She came in and challenged the tenets of what does it mean to be a third party to this investigation? How can she fit into the storyline?
“You have to redouble your humility, because there's a natural inflation that occurs with success, and until it's happened, you can't know it. I guess the main thing is, you unconsciously take things for granted, and you think the audience is with you, because you're with yourself.
“These are discussions that Jude and I would have all the time - what would we expect? What would be expected and gotten wrong this time because you're thinking about all the money that's to be made?”
“It was amazing to see and discover how you worked, as I stepped into this big American movie,” says Rapace. “The way Guy and you two worked was so playful and easy, and I forgot I was nervous. It felt almost like a small indie production, as it was teamwork and it was so intimate.
A sentiment that’s echoed by director Guy Ritchie.
“As a creative team, it's just that,” says Ritchie. “Lionel (English producer Lionel Wigram, producer) came up with the idea, he started the whole thing running.
“Everyone has an equal part in creating what we think an audience will like, and what we think is exciting creatively.
“This might be overstating it, but it's a powerhouse of creativity.
“I don't think anyone trumps another individual in this mix. I'm not sure any one of us can take the credit for any one idea. Someone would come up with a bad idea that would get ridiculed, and then you realise it's the bad idea that led to a good idea, so there's no such thing as a bad idea.”
For Downey Jr though, his contribution is clear: “Any moment in this film that touches you, makes you laugh your ass off or cry - those were mine.”
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is in cinemas Friday 16 December. © 2011 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights reserved.