Back to Baker Street

Audiences world over refused to believe that the super sleuth Sherlock Holmes was gone.

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published: January 3, 2014 5:31 am

Season two ended with him jumping off the building,leaving much to speculation. Audiences world over refused to believe that the super sleuth Sherlock Holmes was gone. They were right as Season 3 of BBC crime drama Sherlock,starring Benedict Cumberbatch,returns this January. Cumberbatch made his mark with films such as Star Trek into Darkness (he plays the villainous Khan),as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate,as plantation owner William Ford in the critically acclaimed 12 Years a Slave and the Necromancer and the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. He shares his trade secrets with JASKIRAN KAPOOR in an email interview:

A murder,a wedding,and a

reunion: Season 3 is all set to start with a bang.

Without giving too much away there is a fantastic trajectory in Sherlock’s character arc which is going from a position of not really fitting in and then doing incredibly well and forming a bond again with John (Dr Watson).

They have some extraordinary adventures in the first and second episodes and then in the third,they are challenged by a situation and a master villain who brings him to his knees. What’s exciting about this series is we see Sherlock in peril. We know from the end of series two that he staged his death,he was out of the game but calculating every move and therefore in charge. With this challenge he is out of control. He loses his authority on the situation and it’s exciting to see a hero in that much jeopardy and what it does psychologically to him.

As far as plots go,Sherlock and John reunite,there is an explanation and a new character in the shape of Mary Morstan — and how the three of them coexist. She is a leading figure,not just a stay-at-home wife — she is someone who is very involved in both of the boys’ realities but it’s a wonderful new dynamic to play with.

You play modern day Sherlock Holmes. How does one take a legendary figure,and make

him timeless?

I did see quite a few adaptations. Jeremy Brett was wonderful. I’ve seen Basil Rathbone,and Robert Downey Jr. But it doesn’t put me off. We’re moving away from that period,so it’s a great scope for freedom of reinterpretation. It wouldn’t have appealed to me as much to play an original Holmes,because I feel that it has been done superlatively well by (Basil) Rathbone in black-and-white and by (Jeremy) Brett in colour.

How did you prepare to become Holmes of today?

I always go back to the books because they are an endless goldmine of reference and character observation. Watson,for all of Sherlock’s critique of him and their relationship,is a very keen observer from a normal person’s point of view and of what this extraordinary person is,whether it’s his physical movements,mercurial character or mood swings — all these aspects are very well detailed. Beyond that I try and memorise things.

I look at my diet a little more specifically,which is very helpful for clarity of mind and a sense of being in his skin,having his energy. Also (it ties in with) his relationship with food because he holds a fast,in the books. He sees food as an obstacle because it slows down the metabolism,it reduces the ability to have a keen,hungry eye. The rest of it is just collaboration.

What quality of Sherlock do you find most interesting?

His mental focus,which comes with its faults as well. It’s very hard-earned. What I love about him is that he is a hero for people who are different because he acquires a status through his skill that raises the bar. I would love to have his mental agility,focus — it’s exceptional — and his memory.

What draws you towards acting?

There were a couple of moments when the pieces of the jigsaw started falling into place. The first one I’m only slightly conscious of — was when I went to visit my godmother in Stratford (UK) and she let me stand on the stage. I just remember looking out into the darkness,and it pulled me in. It gave me a real energy and thrill to think about communicating with that rather than turning away and going home. I had parents who were working actors,so it was a reality for me growing up. It wasn’t “I want to be adored”. Not to say that the screams of fans aren’t a smile-raiser,but that never drew me.

(BBC crime drama Sherlock Season 3 premiers on AXN India,today at 10pm)

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