Earlier today we spoke to Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams, Susan Downey, and Joel Silver at the press conference for Sherlock Holmes at Comic-Con 2009. The gang was in good spirits and being lead by their fearless leader RDJ who kicked off the clips of the film earlier during the panel and was the main topic of conversation.
Check out what they had to say below…
Robert can you talk about your take on Sherlock Holmes?
Robert: My take is what the puritans would expect, if the puritans know what I’m talking about that is. Several of the most surprising things right off the bat are that off associated props have never appeared in the novels or the short stories, he never wore a cap except maybe once for a minute, but even then it was described differently, and even the long pipe was just something that William Gillette used to not obscure his face on stage so the very thing that the kind of, somebody smarter than me will know this, what do you call something when they call something out of black paper? Silhouette — even those things aren’t really quite accurate so we just went back as much as we could without wanting to be reverent beyond repair to help Doyle explain the characters.
Robert you have a great way of making all of the characters feel very natural. Is that easy to bring to this period in this material?
Robert: Well it’s never easy to be relaxed, but we work really hard to make it seem that way and we would write out dialogue to make it seem more nature and have a flow to it, but I think the other great thing about doing a period piece and doing something that’s so specific to — and I really do think Doyle was an amazing, amazing writer and story-teller, I didn’t really quite know how great he was until we kept reaching out to find quotes and things he had said or descriptions he’d said or really more philosophical points of view that Doyle used through Sherlock Holmes — the boundaries are it’s Victorian England and they’re gentleman and so it’s not some of that wavy-gravy free-flowing stuff, there are more boundaries, which I think is a great challenge.
Rachel do you have a lot of fun doing this? In the trailer it seems like you have an awful lot of fun, can you talk about the costumes and how that works within your character?
Rachel: Yeah, she’s a really fun character because she’s quite different from a lot of women of that time. She’s really her on boss, she’s a real free spirit and she’s a woman of the night and of the underworld, so she’s very acrobatic and she’s traveled all-over the world and so there’s lots to play there and yeah, then the costumes, I’m such a girl-girl so I was in heaven just dressed, being dressed from the head down and the costumes are incredible, I man real life corsets with the bones and totally cinch in and I would try to push my belly out in the morning when they were coming to strap me in, I mean it really was like out of Gone With the Wind and I’m holding on to the trailer door and trying to eek out just a little bit of space so I can speak properly, but they managed to squeeze me in everyday — they tried to make me laugh and on the laugh they’d go [tightening-expression] they’d yank, but it was so much fun to be that authentic, to be really dropped right into the period, you know it was great.
Robert, ten years from now, will you still like to be playing characters like this?
Robert: Well, I think about rock-stars and they always say their going to retire by this or that age and then I think about other guys who shall remain nameless, one of which just starred with Rachel in a movie, who had double franchises, and I think the thing is if the material is still good and if you still love working with the people you get to work with then why not? I wouldn’t want to launch anything else, but I think that Sherlock Holmes in particular has just been such a life-changing experience, the act of researching it and making it and Joel and I get to do something big together and Lionel and Susan and Rachel and Jude, I’m so sorry that he’s not here today, he’s so the right arm of this movie. He went to go do something undeniably legitimate so he’s doing Hamlet right now. We of course say, Hamlet, anyone can do that, he was a huge part of this movie, so really the answer to the question is, I’m down for the cause, by then I’ll probably have another kid, a non-alcoholic vineyard.
Describe the relationship between you and Jude in the film.
Robert: Our fearless leader here, and by the way I’ve heard this is like a staple now, “We need a sundance-scene there and we need a — and what’s the other scene they need?” It’s another thing entirely to get in the spirit of what does that mean? People are so close that they almost can’t stand each other, but they can’t stand on their own two feet without each other, that’s what we really felt. Doyle was giving us the first look at what was essentially a two-hander and Doyle essentially is Watson because he’s telling the stories, but saying Watson’s telling them. The process with Jude really was — my assistant who never cares about anything is like standing in the hall, she’s like (yawn sound), and he’s walking down the hall and you know, he’s dressed like fabulous under-dressed and I just said, literally before he said he was available, before he said he wanted to be recorded, we just started talking like two serious actors about what would need to happen to make this work as a piece of straight drama and I think we just became really close really quick because we just rolled up our sleeves and started working from jump.
What’s the take on Sherlock Holmes concerning technology?
Joel: I mean to an extent, I wouldn’t go far, it’s not like a Wild Wild West. It really is a movie they would make in ’91, but it is as if we shot it then, it doesn’t really feel like, it feels like it was shot in 1981 with incredible camera work, but yes, there’s a part of the industrial revolution, it’s happening, but it’s not so much what’s going on and the details aren’t that liberate, but Sherlock does go more than anybody else and I think officially he’s the only fictional character admitted to the Institute of Chemistry, or what’s the name? And he was thought of as an actual chemist in the way Doyle wrote about him and Holmes knows everything, I mean it’s unbelievable, but he knows everything and he figures things out and there’s a great line in the movie where someone says to him, “Holmes, how did you see that?” [And Holmes says] “Because I was looking for him.” And that’s like a perfect, you know, Holmes-moment and I think that they were always trying — they had the books in their hands and they were always trying to go back to the back to the books and actually take lines out of the books where Sherlock Holmes will say, “Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay.”
Robert: There’s a million of them, they are the best lines you could ever want to say
Joel: And these are one of those lines, so I think that it really feels like the way it should be, and look we all love the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce version of the movie, but it’s very different then what we made.
(The panel jokes about making a dirty movie).
Robert: By the way tabloid was the fucking word I was thinking of when we said silhouette.
How is it like to work with Guy Ritchie?
Robert: I’m going to pass that over to Susan Downey who has probably the best executive view on this, don’t hold back.
Susan: Oh, no god, I mean he’s a characters, he’s a — Joel and I had worked with him RocknRolla, but obviously this was a much bigger movie, the scope of the movie, the time we had to shoot it, the money we had to make it and all that. And what’s really great about guy is he has a sense of what the feel, the vibe, the tone is going to be, which is what you see reflected in his movies and he was also very conscious that he was being given an opportunity to show kind of a different side of himself as a director, so I think you’re going to recognize his sense of style, but it’s going to be brought to a whole new level so as far as working what we observed working with the actors is that he gives them a lot of leeway, but there are perimeters, but he let’s them kind of do their thing and he’ll watch and then he’ll come in and if he likes it he’ll let ‘em just kind of go with it and if he doesn’t everybody clears out and he’s steps in, he kind of puts his writer’s hat on and he sits with them and hammers it out until we et the scene right and he’s one of the most efficient directors we’ve ever worked with, he’s very time-conscious, sometimes to the point where you’re like, “Dude, just take the time you need, we’ll make it work.”
Robert: I’ll give you an example of than in a minute.
Susan: Okay, no sometimes he’ll just be, “C’mon, c’mon, we have the crew ready, we got to go, let’s just get it right,” but he’s really good about coming in and tweaking and shaping and doing that, but he lets everybody else do their jobs, he’s not one of those directors who’s going to micro-manage and I think Robert’s worked with a few of those, so it’s probably a little refreshing for that.
Robert: At some point in shooting he actually took on guitar teacher because he felt that you know, why shouldn’t he be utilizing his time more efficiently –
Susan: In between set-ups –
Robert: Now, Rachel McAdams first day of shooting, she prepares for six and a half hours, comes to set, there’s two long-lens cameras, we did two takes, and I was like, “Rachel, now we’re going to cover it,” because it’s her first shot, and Guy’s like, “No that’s all right, we got it,” and I was like, “Susan we don’t got it (shrieking sound)!” Rachel’s like, “Should I have my stand in do it?” And you look in the movie, it’s the scene where I’m looking across the punch bowl and we see that she wins at me and he had it.
Rachel: He knew he had it.
Robert: He had it but sometimes you want to do more, particularly when you get all gussied up for half a day, you want to feel like you’re working there.
Rachel: We just want to indulge ourselves.
We’ll be posting videos for the press conference and the panel soon, so make sure to check back in!