Elementary’s Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu came, saw and conquered Comic-Con 2012. The actors were on hand to promote their CBS drama, which is a modernized take on Sherlock Holmes and his partner Watson. Does this sound familiar? ScreenCrave spoke to the actors during a round-table interview where they revealed what really sets their Sherlock apart. And yes, we even brought up Mr. B… Benedict Cumberbatch.
What was your reaction when you read the pilot? And what do you think about Sherlock’s drug problem?
Jonny Lee Miller: There was a huge attraction to me with that element. I always feel characters that have got problems and issues to deal with are more fun to play. Especially, when you’re trying to balance that with a supposed genius of something and make him not comfortable with that. It gives him an edge. It bleeds into the relationship that Holmes and Watson have. So I was happy about that.
Lucy, do you agree?
Lucy Liu: I do think there’s an element of mystery that’s involved in characters that are damaged. CBS is taking a big risk for their network to allow that to happen. To allow someone who had a history in drugs or whatever addiction it was, and have a sober companion as well. I think there’s something dark and I think that it allows you to go to different places.
What are some of Joan Watson’s flaws?
Lucy Liu: I think Watson’s a character that’s hiding behind what she really needs to look into, which is her past and why she was kicked out and the malpractice. She lost a lot of respect and her integrity. She’s actually more insecure than she lets on and he sees through that. She’s trying to help him but the reality, the clarity of helping him is just a distraction for her to not look at herself.
So do you think viewers like antiheroes more than classic heroes?
Jonny Lee Miller: Audiences like to identify as well with people who are struggling. Or trying to be the best people that they can. You’ve got someone who’s supposed to be a master detective. It’s much more interesting to watch them sort of struggle with that sometimes.
Lucy Liu: And I think the idea of relapse is a great thing because it gives you the opportunity to fall. And people fall all the time and 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.
Holmes is a highly intelligent character with lots of fast-paced dialogue. Is that hard for you to play?
Jonny Lee Miller: Frankly, I don’t have to write it, which is good. I love the way that Rob [Elementary creator Robert Doherty] writes, I have the utmost confidence in him. So in a way, it’s a really good feeling to have that behind you.
Both you and BBC’s Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch worked together in the play Frankenstein, and now you both play the same character on TV. What did you tell him about Elementary?
Jonny Lee Miller: I wanted to assure him that things were different in our project. And he was excited for me and very encouraging. You know, we haven’t had the chance to get together recently but it’s a wonderful character to play.
Elementary debuts September 27 at 10 p.m. on CBS.