The setting was magnificent. The all-wooden cavernous interior of St Marks Church in Mayfair, London gave the proceedings the much needed drama. On stage were Director Guy Ritchie, Producers Joel Silver and Lionel Wigram, actor Noomi Rapace and of course the boys Robert and Jude. They were commanding yet casual, eager to face the hungry European press on the eve of one of the most anticipated sequels. The panel was very quick of the mark reassuring all that the dreaded sequel syndrome made them think long and hard about what this installment means. And for those of us who have seen the results, it would seem they have not succumbed to formulas. The goodwill from the first has given Ritchie more confidence to unleash an explosive sequel. But while the plot travels at breakneck speed, the all crucial ‘relationship’ has found valuable screen time to deepen and mature.
To fully appreciate their efforts here is an edited version of the conference:
Joel and Lionel. What did the new writing team bring to the adventure?
LW. A unique thing, they definitely brought some new blood. It’s a team effort, led by Robert and Guy. We come up with the structure and we make it up as we go along. That gives it the creative vitality that you see in the movie.
JS. The writers give us a structure.
The score for the first movie was oscar nominated.. What was the collaboration like with Hans Zimmer?
GR. Hans and I were very much in sync with what the film score could represent. We like the same kinds of music as well. It was an extension. Hans really enjoyed the first one. And on the second one he went off to Romania for a month and recorded the lions share of the score there. His work is prolific. Hans Zimmer is the real thing. He got into this business for all the right reasons and he is still in this business. He is a trooper and a pleasure to work with. His enthusiasm is contagious.
Robert and Jude, what did you particularly relish about developing the Holmes-Watson ‘bro-mance’?
RDJ. He doesn’t like it when you say bro-mance.
JL. I think it belittles it. I think it’s more than that.
RDJ. Look, people talk about chemistry.. We work really hard, we have an immense respect for each other.
JL. It never felt like we dropped the ball from the first to the second. There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm carried into the second. And certainly a lot of enthusiasm carried into the relationship and we wanted to flesh it out a little more. I was excited in investing and mining more of the same.
Noomi after lots of script offers,why did you choose this film as your first in English?
NR. I always had a strong thing with Gypsies. I was invited to work with people I really admired and whose work I was watching for many years. It felt much more like the people in it.
Robert what are your favorite eccentricities from your Sherlock?
RDJ. I like the dependency on Watson. We found a way to make the audience not judge him for driving a wedge between he and his wife. I think he is someone who needs to be taken care of so that he can do what he does best.
Can you talk us through the challenges and intricacies of directing a naked stephen Fry?
GR. I thought it was going to be an issue. He turned up on the day naked. There was no great resistance, rather like getting Robert into a dress. I got a sneaking suspicion that it was his (Stephen’s) idea.
Also, obvious casting as Sherlock’s older brother?
GR. We have, Robert and I a mutual friend, Chris Martin from COLDPLAY, he is a Sherlockian and it was his idea.
What are the pitfalls of Sequels?
RDJ. I think we were really fortunate to have new blood with Noomi. She came in having mastered a second language inside a year and came into this creative team and started challenging the very tenets of what it means to be a third party to this investigation. I think the main thing that gets lost is that you have to re-double your humility. Because there is a natural inflation that occurs in success. And until it happens you can’t know it. So the main thing is you unconsciously take things for granted and you think the audience is with you just because your with yourself and it’s not true.
JS. The idea was always to make something fresh and original while still replicating the experience of the first. You always feel the secound one is critical because that’s the one continues the saga. It feels on many ways better than the first movie.
Was it an exhausting shoot?
JL. The physical aspect was another element that we wanted to push further.
GR. Some of these action sequences lasted for two weeks and these guys had to work for 8 to 10 hours a day repeating the same stunt. Consequently these three were constantly on a diet and exercise routine. Just the warm up used to go on for an hour, the cool down goes on for an hour and they have 10 hours inbetween.
Guy do you feel constrained by the mainstream or do you feel like your pushing it to be edgier?
GR. I don’t at all. I still myself as an indie film maker. I certainly got no resistance from the studio in terms of trying anything that we thought was innovative, they really encouraged it. So no I don’t feel constrained.
How much have you created Sherlock yourself , Robert and how much comes from the books?
RDJ. From the minute we met, when Guy got us together, Jude and I cracked a book and started getting chills going, hey Watson was never this chubby old dufus with his foot in a waste paper basket. He was dynamic, he was in the army. Holmes never wore a deer stalker cap. In other words, we had a chance to not re-write the history of Holmes but in some ways extrapolate from the untapped actual history.
JL. You can compare Holmes and Watson to great Shakespearean characters that have been played by hundreds of actors. The source material can take that kind of interpretation.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is out in cinemas 16th December 2011.