As one of the most iconic and heavily adapted fictional characters of all-time, there’ve been countless different interpretations of Sherlock Holmes over the years. The first image in a lot of people’s heads when they hear the name is still Basil Rathbone, and his last live-action appearance came in 1946, but he’s just one of many actors to have donned the deerstalker.
The names of those who’ve played Sherlock Holmes in movies, TV shows, radio dramas, stage productions and animations reads like a laundry list of Hollywood royalty and includes Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Roger Moore, Christopher Plummer, Peter O’Toole, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Caine and more recently, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen, Robert Downey Jr. and even Will Ferrell.
Henry Cavill is the latest actor to embody the legendary sleuth, and it would be an understatement to say that his performance as Sherlock in Netflix’s smash hit Enola Holmes has gone down pretty well with subscribers. The 37 year-old looks to have added another world-famous figure to his repertoire after Superman and Geralt of Rivia, while those James Bond rumors still continue to swirl.
In a recent interview, Cavill revealed why he didn’t feel the pressure playing someone as renowned as Sherlock Holmes, and most of it has to do with him not diving headfirst into the source material for inspiration.
“It’s funny, I try not to focus on the pressure aspect I make it more of a personal mission for myself rather than a pressure aspect. Whether that be Superman, whether that be The Witcher, whether that be Sherlock Holmes, I’m not feeling the external pressure. When it comes to Sherlock Holmes, I wasn’t reading the books of Sherlock Holmes necessarily. So I managed to absolve myself of this duty which I put on myself which is being a law loyalist. It’s always about the details. I’m the most annoying guy on set, because I’m saying, ‘Excuse me, you do realize this should be happening and they wouldn’t do that and you haven’t read this then that means this would be impossible’. Everyone’s just going, ‘Henry just shut up and do the thing’. I’m like, ‘I don’t wanna do the thing. He wouldn’t do it this way but he can do this’. With Sherlock, because I absolved myself of being that psychopathic law loyalist, we could craft a Sherlock that was supportive of Enola as a character.”
The Sherlock we meet in Enola Holmes was never designed to be anything other than a supporting player, giving Cavill more free rein than usual when it comes to developing his approach to creating the character. That being said, if he’d read more of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, then maybe Netflix wouldn’t have been sued for making the character too emotional.