IGN caught up with man-of-the-moment Mark Strong at the British Independent Film Awards this past weekend and grabbed a word with him about Sherlock Holmes, Kick-Ass, Nottingham and all-round villainy. This is what he had to say, though beware of minor spoilers ahead.
IGN: Is it right that you’re the villain in Sherlock Holmes, but not Moriarty?
Mark Strong: That’s right. He’s kind of cherry-picked from all the novels really. Moriarty’s in it, but you don’t really see him. I think he’s there because if the franchise carries on, there’s a possibility that he will appear in a larger guise. But for the purposes of the detective narrative in this one, I’m the guy that Sherlock’s after — Lord Blackwood. He’s a cultist/Satanist lord who is the ultimate cad.
IGN: And this Sherlock Holmes as a bit of an action hero, who does martial arts?
Strong: Yes, but apparently it is from the books. In one of them it’s mentioned that Holmes does know a martial art called “baritsu,” which I think is a real martial art [it isn’t; Conan Doyle invented it]. That’s never really been explored, but why not?
IGN: So have you had your own fight training?
Strong: I’m not doing that. That’s all Robert Downey, Jr.’s territory.
IGN: No martial arts showdown between the two of you then?
Strong: There is definitely a showdown, but he may be giving me a kicking! At the moment it’s supposed to all be taking place on a half-built Tower Bridge because in the period that this is set, I think Tower Bridge is just being built.
IGN: You’ve been filming in some amazing London locations…
Strong: Yes, St. Paul’s, the church behind St. Bart’s which has a 12th century crypt in it, Freemason’s Hall in Covent Garden, really fantastic locations.
IGN: What’s been your experience of working with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law?
Strong: They’re amazing, both of them. They really know what they’re doing and they’re gents, the pair of them. Robert is working incredibly hard, I think he’s got 70-odd shooting days one after the other, he’s on set every day, six days a week. And they look after him as best they can, but it’s pretty exhausting. And Jude is giving us a younger, much more dynamic Watson than people are used to. The old Watson was like the bumbling bluffer. But apparently again in the book, he’s a young army doctor.
IGN: Any favourite scenes that you’ve shot so far?
Strong: Funnily enough the very first day of the whole shoot was this massive speech that my character has to give in this Masonic lodge to like, 60 extras. So we’ve just arrived, just got the costume on, the look on, in this incredible building and there’s like 60 guys in Masonic outfits sitting there looking at you and I had to do a two-page monologue. And that was phenomenal, and got things off to a good start.
IGN: This is your third film in a row with Guy Ritchie, and it’s presumably a big compliment when a director wants to work with you again?
Strong: It’s amazing. I’ve just been doing a thing called Kick-Ass with Matthew Vaughn, based on a graphic novel [from Wanted author Mark Millar]. I play this New York gangster called Frank D’Amico, and that’s also the second thing I’ve done with Matthew. Sherlock Holmes is the third thing I’ve done with Guy and then I’m going to do Nottingham next year with Ridley [Scott], so that will be the second film I’ve done with him too.
IGN: And who do you play in Nottingham?
Strong: The Guy of Gisborne character, although I don’t think he’s called Guy of Gisborne. I think it’s a revisionist kind of thing.
IGN: So back-to-back villainy then?
Strong: Yeah, but villains are the best, aren’t they? I enjoy them better than any other parts. You can play with them and already they’ve got depth and darkness and weirdness and you can plumb those and decide what you want to do with them.
The published article can be read on IGN – ‘Sherlock Villain Kicks Ass’