Friday, August 7, 2009

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes

As I was doing my meme part I had mentioned Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. As many actors fear, sometimes a role can take you over, and you never live out of character. Here in part from Wikipedia, why he was so good as Mr. Holmes. Click on the title for more info.

Brett had been approached in February 1982 by Granada TV to play Holmes. The idea was to make a totally authentic and faithful adaption of the character's best cases. Eventually Brett accepted the role. He wanted to be the best Sherlock Holmes the world had ever seen[6] He conducted extensive research on the great detective and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, and was very attentive to discrepancies between the scripts he had been given and Conan Doyle's original stories.[7] One of Brett's dearest possessions on the set was his 77-page "Baker Street File" on everything from Holmes' mannerisms to his eating and drinking habits. Brett once explained that "some actors are becomers - they try to become their characters. When it works, the actor is like a sponge, squeezing himself dry to remove his own personality then absorbing the characters like a liquid".[8]

Brett was obsessed with bringing more passion to the role of Holmes. He introduced Holmes' rather eccentric hand gestures and short violent laughter. He would hurl himself on the ground just to look for a footprint, he would leap over furniture or jump on the parapet of a bridge with no regard for his own personal safety.

Holmes' obsessive and depressive personality fascinated and frightened Brett. In many ways Holmes' personality resembled Brett's own, with outbursts of passionate energy followed by periods of lethargy. It became difficult for Brett to let go of Holmes after work. He had always been told that the only way for an actor to stay sane was for him to leave his part behind at the end of the day, but Jeremy started dreaming about Holmes, and the dreams turned into nightmares.[9] Brett began to refer to Sherlock Holmes as "You Know Who" or simply "HIM": "Watson describes You Know Who as a mind without a heart, which is hard to play. Hard to become. So what I have done is invent an inner life".[10] Brett invented an imaginary life of Holmes to fill the hollowness of Holmes' "missing heart", his empty emotional life. He imagined :"...what You Know Who's nanny looked like. She was covered in starch. I don't think he saw his mother until he was about eight years old..." etc..[11]

Eventually it began to go wrong. His workload was pushing him to the limit. While the other actors disapperared to the canteen for lunch Jeremy would sit alone on the set reading the script, looking at every nuance.[12] He would read Holmes in the weekends and on his holidays. "Some actors fear if they play Sherlock Holmes for a very long run the character will steal their soul, leave no corner for the original inhabitant", he once said.[13] It never occurred to him that he was ill.
for more information on this great actor.
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