Moriarty (Jared Harris) is sitting at a table inside the Hotel De La Ville in Paris surrounded by people. He’s reading a newspaper inside the cafe. After a few seconds, someone walks in to tell him something. While I can’t hear what they’re saying, the news must be important, as he gets up after hearing it. As he rises out of the chair, the focus of the shot pulls to an old man sitting at a table in the foreground of the frame. The man is unremarkable. He wears a suit of no importance. He has a long grey beard and long grey hair. I didn’t notice him until the camera pulled focus. As Moriarty leaves the room and the man jumps out of his chair, I realize it’s Sherlock Holmes in disguise.
But let me back up a second.
Last month, on the day the Sundance Film Festival started, I got to visit the set of Sherlock Holmes 2 (now called Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) when the production was filming 45 miles outside London at Waddesdon Manor. While the filming that day was supposed to be taking place in Paris, director Guy Ritchie was using the manor as a stand-in for the city. The manor was built to look like a French Renaissance-style château, and standing inside the breathtaking building, I understood why they’d want to film there. Read more about my visit to the set of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows after the jump.
Since Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows doesn’t get released until December 16th, Warner Bros. has only given me permission to run a preview of what I saw and learned on set. They also don’t want me running any of the interviews that I did with Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, producers Susan Downey and Lionel Wigram, and director Guy Ritchie. However, later this year, you can expect my full set report, all the interviews, and the video blog I recorded with Silas Lesnick from Coming Soon when we got back from set.
Now even though I can’t be specific or use any quotes, I think it’s safe to tell you what I thought after spending the entire day on set: I think Sherlock Holmes 2 is going to be even better than the first film – which I loved. One of the reasons I feel this way is due to what Jared Harris told us during his interview. He mentioned that he didn’t want his character to explain everything in some long winded end-of-the-movie speech which lays out all of his plans. He wanted Moriarty to be mysterious. He wanted the audience to be unsure of his reasons. And that is extremely cool.
In addition to Harris saying all the right things, we got to speak to Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law for about twenty five minutes while they were both in costume as Holmes and Watson. The way they spoke to us and interacted with one another, you could tell they were extremely happy to be making a sequel to Sherlock Holmes and I can only imagine their enthusiasm will make for great chemistry on screen.
Of course during the interviews we learned a lot about what the sequel is going to be about, but since I know WB wants us to be vague for now, here’s the official synopsis from the studio:
“Guy Ritchie helms a new action-packed adventure, following the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.), and his longtime trusted associate, Dr. Watson (Law), as they match wits with their arch-nemesis, the criminal genius Moriarty (Harris).”
As you can see, they’re keeping their cards close to their vest. Just know I’m very excited by what I learned on set, so if you’re a fan of the first film, don’t worry. They have a great story.
However, while I need to be careful what I say, Matt Goldberg wrote a bit on the film a few months ago when the first images was released and it sums up a lot:
The sequel takes place a year after the events of the first film and sees Holmes in pursuit of Professor Moriarty (Mad Men’s Jared Harris), who “might be the world’s first supervillain”. The film also introduces Noomi Rapace in her first American role as a “feisty” gypsy named Sim. Along for the ride is Stephen Fry as Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes, a character who is, according to producer Susan Downey, “stranger and perhaps even more brilliant,” than Sherlock. Meanwhile, as Sherlock and Watson pursue Moriarty, Watson is trying to keep his relationship with Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) afloat.
Finally, in addition to the scene I already told you about, we also got to watch an outdoor action scene being filmed at the end of our set visit. As we stood around a monitor in a heated tent (it was very cold outside) we watched a dozen horse-drawn carriages and a hundred people react to an explosion that will be added in using CGI. I won’t say anymore than that for now. Just know it was very cool to watch and I can’t wait to see it when the film is completed.
Again, I’m sorry I can’t say anymore, but with the film still ten months away, I can understand Warner Bros. wanting us to hold our coverage back. However, if you’re going to Comic-Con this summer, I’d imagine the studio will unveil some finished footage and possibly have the cast in attendance. After all, Downey Jr. is a rock star at Comic-Con and he’ll probably be there for The Avengers anyway.