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The Cast And Characters of
"Mr. Holmes, you must widen your gaze. I'm concerned you underestimate the gravity of coming events. For you and I are bound on a journey that will twist the very fabric of nature.”

"Sherlock Holmes” unfolds against the backdrop of London in 1890, when the city seems at the center of the world, with technology extending mankind's reach and all things new racing to replace the old. "There's a growing engagement in technologies of the near future, and this sense of wonderment,” Robert Downey Jr. observes. "They're verging on all these incredible things.”

But for all the polish and prestige, 1890s London is also a cesspool into which all the criminals of contemporary society drain…which makes it the ideal city for a man like Sherlock Holmes. Downey continues, "You have this incredibly fascinating yet dangerous city, and Holmes knows every inch of it. He feels that this is his city in which to engage the enemy. And he knows what he's up against.”

For Guy Ritchie, having Downey in the title role became the key to unlocking a new interpretation of "Sherlock Holmes.” "In my opinion, Robert is the perfect Holmes,” says the director. "He's American, but his English accent is flawless and he has an international feel to him. In his own way, Robert's also a bit of a genius. He's tremendously smart and quick-witted, and is very comfortable playing a character like Holmes without any artifice or pretension.”

Producer Susan Downey agrees. "The eloquence of Holmes, his use of words and language, seems to come very naturally to Robert. There is also real physicality to the role in our film. Holmes participates in bare-knuckle boxing fights and practices martial arts, which Robert has been doing for the past six years. So, it was a very natural progression to immediately think of Robert as Holmes.”

Holmes's unconventional quirks and understated idealism resonated with the actor. "He's an archetype,” Robert Downey Jr. asserts. "There's something so monastic about him—his intentions are so pure, and his moral code is strengthened by his resolve and his actions. When he feels he's not inspired or motivated by some creative charge, he'll fall into a state where he barely speaks a word for three days, and when he's engaged, he has incredible amounts of energy, super-human energy. He says, ‘There's nothing more stimulating than a case where nothing goes your way.' And, in the end, Holmes's passionate curiosity and his ability to not only see but interpret these details are what make him so unique.”

Holmes would not be who he is without Watson, his enabler, his collaborator, his friend. As with Holmes, the filmmakers felt that the Dr. Watson of the books is far more of a dynamic character than the one depicted in past movies and television series.

"Watson has sometimes been portrayed as a sort of bumbling fool against Holmes's great, lofty genius,” says Ritchie, "but that really isn't the case. Watson is a much more significant individual than that. They really are a team.”

In "Sherlock Holmes,” Watson is as tough as they come. "He's a war veteran just back from the Afghan war; he's been wounded and has been through hardship,” Wigram describes. "He's a strong, physical man and he knows how to handle himself. Although he's not a mad genius like Holmes, he's a very clever man.”

In many ways, the casting of Jude Law as Watson was every bit as crucial as that of Downey as Holmes. "It seems impossible to imagine anyone else being Watson once we cast Jude,” says Ritchie. "I wanted a good-looking Watson. I didn't want him to be subservient or inferior, but rather a bit of a hero with an equal partnership with Holmes. I believe that's to a degree what Conan Doyle was really after.”

Jude Law was familiar with Holmes and Watson since reading the stories as a child and marvele

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