Categories: Movies and TV

Ian McKellen reveals human side of famed detective in ‘Mr. Homes’

Director Bill Condon’s brilliant “Mr. Holmes” is not a Sherlock Holmes movie, but rather a movie “about a man who happens to be Sherlock Holmes,” says producer Anne Carey.

Ian McKellen, in his first film with Condon since the equally great “Gods and Monsters,” gives a masterful performance as the title character, who, at 93, is retired and keeps bees. With his memory failing him, he tries to remember the facts of his final case and why it might have led him to retire.

Carey, in San Franicsco earlier this year to promote the film, says screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher (“Casanova,” “The Duchess”) was the first and only person considered for the job of adapting the novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind” by Mitch Cullin, which reimagines Holmes as a real person whose adventures have been turned into detective novels by his friend and partner Dr John Watson.

Hatcher says he received his first volume of Holmes stories at age 10. and spent many years watching the movies and TV shows.

Likewise, no one other than McKellen was considered for Holmes.

Meanwhile, Laura Linney, who co-stars as Holmes’ grumpy housekeeper, also has been a Holmes fan since childhood, and already was a favorite of director Condon. (She received an Oscar nomination for the Condon-directed “Kinsey.”)

“It’s kind of a one-stop movie,” says Carey.

Yet it took some time to produce the film, because other Sherlock Holmes-related productions – Robert Downey Jr. movies and the TV show with Benedict Cumberbatch – became popular.

“We had to wait for the wave to crest,” says Hatcher. “That’s the cool thing about Sherlock Holmes. There’s always a few years since the next iteration. If you look back, you’re amazed at the number of people playing Holmes.

For Hatcher, this movie is unique: “I think this is the only one that deals with the idea of what it’s like to have been turned into a fictional character,” he says.

In another brilliant touch, McKellen’s Holmes attends a Sherlock Holmes movie, the star of which is none other than grown-up Nicholas Rowe, who played “Young Sherlock Holmes” (1985).

“That was something that Bill brought: the idea of Holmes watching himself,” Carey says. “He realized it would communicate visually many of the things that we had been doing in a more writerly way.”

“Mr. Holmes” is not based on the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, though it takes cues from hints and clues — for example, a reference to beekeeping — scattered throughout those works.

“Whenever a writer leaves a gap,” Hatcher says, smiling, “and you can get in there and fill it, and it doesn’t alter what came before or after it, it’s fantastic.”


Mr. Holmes
Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada
Written by: Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by: Bill Condon
Rated PG
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Jeffrey M. Anderson
Published by
Jeffrey M. Anderson

Recent Posts

Oakland Athletics not scoreboard watching with chance to clinch at home

OAKLAND -- There was not a single television in the Oakland Athletics tuned to the Tampa Bay-Toronto game on Sunday…

58 mins ago

BART equipment failure fills Civic Center Station with smoke

Smoke from an equipment failure on a BART track prompted transit officials to temporarily close Civic Center Station on Saturday…

4 hours ago

RV life

David Samples lived in a rundown 1971 Chinook RV in the Bayview District for about six months before he sought…

13 hours ago

Oakland Athletics could clinch playoff berth at home as magic number drops to one

OAKLAND -- The Tampa Bay Rays had just fallen behind 3-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays, and in the Oakland…

13 hours ago

Questions remain as Treasurer’s Public Bank Task Force comes to a close

Seven months after convening the Municipal Public Bank Task Force and after, presumably, seven months of research, public bank advocates…

13 hours ago

Who’s in charge at Lake Merced?

Lake Merced is a recreational and natural wonder in the southwest corner of San Francisco. Rowers, dragon boat racers, golfers,…

13 hours ago