Mr Holmes

Today I did another of those bits of difficult research I force myself to pursue: I went to see Ian McKellan in Mr Holmes.

Oh my, what an actor, slipping effortlessly between a vital 60 year old and a decrepit and confused man in his nineties. And the Sussex scenery is suitably gorgeous, the houses made me want to move in (and I could! The Sussex cottage he lives in is a B&B!)

Holmes’ musings on becoming fictional are great, and his dislike for deerstalker hats and larger pipes are a nice touch. There are even in-jokes: when Holmes goes to watch a Sherlock Holmes film, the man playing the lead is Nicholas Rowe, who played in “Young Sherlock Holmes.” And the inspector who comes to talk to Holmes? Well, remember the taxi driver in the BBC’s “Study in Pink”? Here’s Phillip Davis again, with a twinkle in his eye.

But the cherry on the top was when I came home and my sister handed me the movie’s review (by Lisa Jensen, with whom I have a Mutual Admiration Society) that appeared in the weekly Good Times. The review ends with the line:

I hope the next time the movies want to do something really original with Sherlock Holmes, they discover the novels of Laurie King.

In the meantime, enjoy Mr Holmes.

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  1. Merrily Taylor on July 27, 2015 at 6:12 am

    I loved the film – everything you said, Laurie! In addition to the things you mentioned, I thought the “set dressing” was amazing – the sort of glorious mess that was Holmes’ study, the cupboard full of mysterious little bottles, the very believable rendering of the Baker Street rooms – and the man can really rock a frock coat.
    Quite honestly, I enjoyed the film far more than the book, which was IMO, horribly depressing.

    • Phyllis cooper on July 27, 2015 at 9:16 am

      The only Sherlock Holmes I know was introduced to me in “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice”, and came as a surprise having avoided the Conan Doyle series for some reason. Now that I know him I was hesitant about seeing the new film without Mary. Thanks for the review and I agree it’s time to consult Laurie for the ‘real’ Holmes story!

  2. Margaret Laing on July 27, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Thank you so much for your research, Laurie. I have been reluctant to try the movie yet, but now I’m feeling much better about the idea. Of course, I’d feel even better if your novels reached the screen. Any ideas on casting?

    • Suzanne on July 28, 2015 at 10:04 am

      For nearly a year now I have been obsessing on the visual image of Charles Dance as Holmes – in fact, I have saved a couple of images of the actor on my desktop so I can see him every day! 🙂 Dance’s face & physicality have the right balance of toughness, superiority and yet generosity and compassion that Russell has observed in him repeatedly. Dance, I’m afraid, may be a tad bit too old, but does still convey the “marital vigor” that Russell also alludes too! I would attach the images to this post if I could figure out how to…

      • Laurie King on July 28, 2015 at 11:10 am

        He’d be great, I agree!

      • Nora on July 28, 2015 at 11:57 am

        True, you’d want someone in his 50’s with a touch of gray but still very vital and have that touch of sex appeal – more like a Pierce Brosnan! 🙂 Mary would be harder to cast cause would have to start out as a 15 year old and age as the movies continue – as of course they would!!

  3. Nora on July 27, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I started with the Canon so had a very good idea what Sherlock was like – then loved the Jeremy Brett episodes!
    Since then was a win/lose proposition since I discovered your books! Amazing to me that someone hasn’t approached you to make your book(s) in movies! Ah, to see Mary ‘in the flesh’ so to speak and see the stories come to life on the big screen would be amazing! Apart from that dream, we have the BBC series (which is good) and various other books that are mostly disappointments. Guess I’ll go to the McKellan movie. He’s a great actor and was curious how he’d do! Thanks!

  4. Wendy Martin on July 27, 2015 at 11:22 am

    As long as we are talking casting…I grew up with the Doyle books, and have already nearly commuted yours to memory, yet for the life of me cannot picture Mary as blond. You describe her repeatedly, so there is no good reason, but my minds eye is dysfunctional on this point. So, have you any picture of casting here? Tall, slim, blond?

    • Phyllis Cooper on July 27, 2015 at 11:37 am

      I’m envisioning Gwyneth Paltrow though chronological she would be too old.

      • Nora on July 27, 2015 at 11:57 am

        Would rather it be an unknown actress – and definitely British – that would grow older with the part – cause sure wouldn’t be able to stop with Beekeeper!!

    • Gayle on July 27, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      I also have trouble imagining Mary as a blonde.

    • Torii Hamilton on July 27, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      I picture Russell a bit more like Megan Follows of Anne of Green Gables. I cannot imagine any other known actress in the role, but would welcome a Newbie—provides she fits the role ( as imagined by Ms. King and myself) . 🙂

      • Torii Hamilton on July 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm

        Note—not as flighty, or impetuous, but the way Megan thought aloud to herself and approached things freshly, and a bit physically. Mary is a bit more reserved, but I like their brave spirits.

      • Joanne on July 29, 2015 at 7:38 pm

        Megan Follows did an abridged recorded book of BEEK. It was terrible that it was abridged but her performance was wonderful.

  5. Phyllis Cooper on July 27, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Chronologically – gotta love…

  6. Rick Warren on July 27, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Indeed, we now know the set for the Russell books (well, the Sussex Downs sets, anyway) exist! Let the BBC series filming begin! I think Beekeeper would make an excellent series (what used to be called a “mini-series” in the US and is roughly what they call an entire season in the UK!) in 2 parts of 6 hour-long episodes each: Episodes 1-6 being Book one, covering their meeting, training, etc, ending with the successful conclusion of the kidnapping case; Episodes 7-12, beginning with the peaceful serenity of Sussex being disturbed by exploding beehives and continuing through to the end. (Of course, due to actors’ aging, subsequent series would probably have to be filmed in chronological order that they take place rather than published order.)
    Oh, please, please make this happen!

    • Nora on July 27, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Sounds like your fans have laid the groundwork, all you have to do is make it happen, Laurie! Please!

  7. Ann Burns on July 27, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    I agree with Merrily – the book it was based on would have put me off the movie except for the casting – Ian McKellan is marvellous and it is worth seeing the film for his performance alone. Thanks Laurie for the information that the place is a B&B – any more details? I stayed for the final credits but did not glean that information. Also enjoyed seeing actors from other British series like the doctor who also was in Endeavour – as well as Phil Davis.

  8. tracy freeman on July 27, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    I liked the movie, and thought Sir Ian was astounding. The set, scenery casting was brilliant. I thought the story was just plain sad. My mom is 92 and is mindfully solid – an yet…that stare, that look when he came out of the stare…just sad.

  9. Linda on July 28, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    I’m obviously a lone voice here but I would NOT be receptive to a movie or TV series based on the Mary Russell books. I feel protective of the Russell and Holmes characters as I experience them in your books, Laurie, and they live in my head that way. No one could ever capture them outside my head. As far as Mr Holmes goes, I have no interest. I’m with the reviewer you quote; maybe the movie will bring you new readers.

    • Nora on July 28, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      I understand completely with what you’re feeling. You’ve ‘lived’ with Holmes and Mary through all the wonderful books and have a very vivid picture in your mind of what they look like and how they act. How can that ever be transferred to the big screen and not be a disappointment! I’m sure Laurie feels some of that too (look with what nervousness she went to see the Sir Ian movie wonering how it would compare with her own Holmes).

      Well, I have confidence in Laurie – if such a wonderful thing did happen, I know that she’s make sure she was completely pleased with the actors, etc. before giving it her OK.

      Some fans may not want to see them and that’s alright. Others, like myself, can hardly believe it would happen. And, as you said, it might open up a whole new world to people who have never read the books and hopefully they will do so after seeing the movies.

  10. Phyllis on July 28, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I’m nearing the end of “Dreaming Spies” and have no idea what to read until the next Mary Russell book comes out. Any suggestions?

  11. Angela Lee on July 30, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Long time lurker, first time poster, and fan of Laurie’s books here. Just wanted to add that Sir Ian absolutely ROCKS in every performance he gives – on stage, big screen, or small screen. I saw the movie last night, and I loved it. Highly recommended.

  12. Judy D on August 4, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Enjoyed the movie; loved TBA.

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