It’s Elementary, My Dear Watson!

by Susan Hornik

This fall, CBS is doing their own contemporary version of Sherlock Holmes, this time with a few twists:  it’s set in New York City (vs London) and his counterpart, Watson, is a woman! Brainworld talked to Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu about the wonderful intricacies that make the iconic eccentric detective timeless and fascinating as he meticulously solves crimes—no matter what actor plays him!

Brain World: In addition to the brilliant way he solves complicated murder puzzles, this Sherlock Holmes has a sobriety issue.

Jonny: There was a huge attraction for me with that element. I always feel that characters that have problems and issues to deal with are more fun to play, especially when you’re trying to balance that with a supposed genius or something. And then make him not comfortable with that, give him an edge that leads into the relationship that Holmes and Watson have. That’s a plus all around for me to bring some darkness into it and something a little more edgy that you don’t necessarily see too much on network television.

Lucy:  There’s an element of mystery that’s involved in characters that are really intelligent but damaged. CBS is taking a big risk for their network to allow that to happen and to have someone who has had a history in drugs or whatever addiction it was and have a sober companion as well. Watson is a character that is hiding behind what she needs—to really look into her past. As a disgraced surgeon, she lost a lot of respect and her integrity, and is actually more insecure than she leads on.

Jonny:  You’ve got to like someone who’s supposed to be a master detective. But it’s much more interesting to watch some sort of struggle with that.

Lucy: The idea of relapse is a great thing because it gives you the opportunity to fall. People fall all the time. They want to see you get back up. I think that’s an important aspect of an actor, to not just play it straight all the time. You have an opportunity to land on your ass and get back up. 

BW: He’s highly intelligent. Is that kind of intimidating in a way?

Jonny:  Well, frankly, I don’t have to write it, which is good, and it’s nice to pretend to be intelligent!

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