Q: What was the challenge to recreate Holmes and take it to another level?
RDJ: Well, after the first one worked out pretty good, we were pretty much doing the press tour talking about things we would like to improve and other directions we could go. And then, there’s the reality of doing it. Anybody who’s ever been involved in making the second part to a first that worked, there should be a whole online support team for this. We happened through it. We were just thinking about this over lunch too. There’s so much to learn, and again, I think the greatest disguise was us disguising ourselves as consummate by-the-numbers professionals when in fact we’re all incredibly eccentric. Warner Brothers has given us the opportunity to try to do something that’s complicated and needs to tick a bunch of boxes and all that. The great thing we had this time is we had Noomi and Jared.
Q: At the “Due Date” press conference, you described that as the second greatest story ever told. Is this at least the third greatest?
RDJ: I don’t talk to Todd Phillips anymore. Let’s stay on topic.
Q: Can you talk about your lovely transformation into a woman?
RDJ: Okay, so I guess we’re not talking about this as being one of the most important films of the year?
Q: Well, your transformation was amazing.
RDJ: You’re right. Uh, I put on some makeup.
Q: Are you excited about being a new dad?
RDJ: Yes. Can’t wait. I’m very excited. More questions for me, please. This is how I was hoping the last press conference would go.
Q: Robert, there was a rumor in the National Enquirer about you and Jude…
RDJ: Yes! Would you mind repeating? This could be the most important thing that anyone says today. How are we going to get nominated with these kinds of questions?
Q: What would you call you and Jude doing “Some Like It Hot” with Guy directing?
RDJ: That’s called Act Two of “Sherlock 2: A Game of Shadows.” No, the Mrs. [Susan Downey, producer] referenced that a while ago. That’s what it reminded her of. I thought I looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dwarf brother. That’s what I thought I looked like, Tony Curtis and the lead singer from The Cure, Robert Smith. Any other movies you want to talk about? Did you like “The Artist”?
Q: Guy, why did you want to come back?
RDJ: Why? Why?
GR: Even he answered that for me. Why? Because we enjoyed it so much the first time. And I waited with some anticipation for the box office results for very different reasons than everybody else, because it was such a cathartic experience the first time around and an enjoyable one that we just wanted to do it again.
Q: Noomi, as the newcomers to the franchise, what was it like? Was adjusting to Guy’s style of directing easy for you?
NR: For most of the movies I’ve done before, I’ve done a lot of preparation. I’ve known about them long before and I’ve prepped and I’ve changed my body and I’ve done research, all things you can imagine before. But on this one, I met Robert and Susan (Downey) maybe six weeks, seven weeks before we started to shoot. It was a good, quick meeting in L.A. We didn’t really talk about Sherlock Holmes but we talked about movies and dreams. I remember Robert asking me how I wanted to work and what movies I wanted to make. It was really super intense and I walked out of that meeting and called my manager. I was like wow, those two are amazing. I would love to work with them. Then Warner Brothers wanted to send me over to London to meet Guy Ritchie. I was there for an hour, we talked, and it was also very intense. I came out of that meeting and I was like whoa, I would love to work with those people, but I didn’t expect anything. I think it was a week later, two weeks later they wanted me to do this role. Then we started to shoot three weeks later. So I just kind of jumped into it. It was super intense and so much fun. I was really nervous before. It was my first English-speaking movie and I didn’t speak English three years ago. So I didn’t really know how to deal with it and how it would be for me. It was very playful and easy and creative and they were all very open. It felt like they embraced my ideas, and it felt like we created this character together in a way. I was surprised the way they just opened their family for me and I became one of the boys pretty much. And the way Guy works, I don’t remember a single situation when I came on set and Guy said, “Okay, this is what I want you to do exactly.” He always asked me, “How do you want to do this, Noomi? How do you see this? What do you think Simsa would’ve done?” That’s pretty much the way I love to work, in a very searching, creative, open way. You always need to use ‘in what kind of shape are we today’ and ‘what do we feel’? What’s the energy today? And we use the energy today and go from there in a way. So it was fantastic.
Q: Jared, can you talk about playing the iconic character of Moriarty?
JH: I was a fan of the first movie and you could see from the first film that they had taken such a fresh approach to how they were treating the characters and the period and the subject matter. It was exciting because you knew it had to be a re-imagined version. It needed to be a different version of the character than we’d seen beforehand. It was a big mountain in the sense that the character has to pose a formidable problem to Sherlock’s character. If it’s just about defeating a paperboy on a paper route, it isn’t a big enough challenge. He has to be formidable in that sense. How that was going to be achieved, I didn’t know, but I knew it had to happen.
Q: For Hans and Guy, can you talk about your collaboration on the film’s score?
HZ: Go on, Guy!
GR: No Hans, I insist that you start.
HZ: That’s what he usually does to me. “You got any ideas, Hans?” I think that’s sort of where it starts. Okay, no, let me be moderately less flippant. I’m reading the script and it says “the Gypsy Fortune Teller” and I phone Guy and I go “Road trip. We’ve got to do a road trip. We’ve got to go there. We’ve got to go and find out what this music is.” In the first one, I felt Robert would maybe embrace this idea somewhat that Sherlock had always played the violin. He always played Bach and all the classical stuff and I thought, to use a line from the movie, “Widen your gaze.” I thought that the Victorian times were about exploring the exotic, the East, and maybe the character of Sherlock could be playing virtuoso Gypsy music. But suddenly, when I read the line “the Gypsy fortune teller,” I realized I knew nothing of their culture. So, off we went. I took my team to Eastern Slovakia. We went for a week. We would get up at 5:30 in the morning, get into our little van, and go from one settlement to the next. The Gypsies, the Roma people, to give them their proper name, live in such poverty. I mean, the shock of entering these settlements and the shock of seeing these outcasts and at the same time then hearing them play with this virtuosity and this music and this unbelievable culture that was just screaming to be heard, and to cut a long story short, I took thirteen of them. It was impossible to decide who but finally we ended up with thirteen players that we put on a bus and we went to Vienna and we just ensconced ourselves in this studio there for a while and language problems were impossible. They speak Roma. I speak German and English. My other violinist speaks Russian. But then, that old cliché, which I’d never really believed, that music was some sort of common language actually really started to come true because we would just sit down and start playing together and the most communication other than the playing seemed more like a raised eyebrow when I played a wrong note which inevitably would be me. I think one thing which was really important on this movie was that Guy had decided early on that we should all work together in one place which was London. And so, the sense of family, a family adventure, I think made this movie so much better. The other thing I have to say about the Gypsy music, the Romani music, is both Guy and I have always loved it so that was a very easy way of dealing with it. How we worked together is … (to Guy) … you go ahead.
GR: I’m glad he answered that question and not me because I can tell you my answer would not have been that eloquent. Hans and I like the same music and we’re influenced by the same origins I suppose of music. We’re both big fans of Gypsy music. In fact, we tried to get some Gypsy music in the first one, but organically it popped up in the second one. Music, in no small way, plays an enormous part in these films. I mean, Hans and I have spent many a drunken evening talking about these things.
HZ: Yes, let’s be honest.
Q: Susan, can you describe the role of the producers?
SD: We have been called the hoverers by Guy, of course. He knows when Lionel (Wigram) and I approach him on set there’s something wrong. Sometimes we come and say something is really good though. Obviously, Michele and Kieran (Mulroney), the writers, were there from the ground up with us on this one trying to create the story that we wanted to tell. Once the studio says go make the movie, we all have slightly differing roles that compliment each other to try and make sure that Guy’s vision of the movie gets made and that the studio is seeing dailies of what they thought they signed off on, at least close enough because it’s never what’s actually completely on the page, and try and keep good communication between the actors and all the departments and stuff like that. It is about them (the actors) being in front and it is about Guy establishing a tone and getting what he wants on film. We are behind the scenes trying to keep everything moving and we send Joel (Silver) in to scream and yell at people at the studio if we’re not getting exactly what we want and deal with that. He’s very, very good at that. We stay in the background.
Q: Noomi, how has your Hollywood experience been so far?
NR: Well, I think I’m really spoiled now. This was the first American or English speaking movie I did. I didn’t know what to expect before, but the way those people worked and the way we worked together was just amazing and the journey we went on together felt like we went through things together. You said that we were in London all the time. I kind of forgot that because it felt like we were in different places. It felt like you and me and Jude came closer and closer in this group. It was really fantastic. I’ve heard that you’re waiting around and you sit in your trailer and wait, then you go in and do something, and then you go back to your trailer and wait. I don’t remember waiting at all. I was extremely happy and then I went amazingly enough straight into Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus.” I started to prep “Prometheus” straight after and I was in that movie for five, six months. So it was a really intense year and now I’m here. I’m really grateful to those people that they believed in me and gave me the chance and invited me on this journey. I’m extremely grateful and proud.
Q: Guy, what was it about Noomi that made you cast her?
GR: I think we all saw “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” at about the same time and there was an unconscious collective agreement by the time we got on the phone about Noomi. After a very short meeting with Noomi, that was confirmed. Our desires were confirmed and we pretty much wanted Noomi from the start. She ticked all the boxes and she took it pretty seriously. All the actors took it very seriously and no one was late, very rarely. She had all the prerequisites and it wasn’t a tricky decision ever.
Q: What was the biggest logistical challenge?
GR: We made a movie that takes place in Europe in three or four countries so you could say that was the biggest logistical challenge. Thanks to the magic of visual effects and our wonderful [inaudible] supervisor, it made life much easier to do that. It was really fulfilling that effort that was the most complicated.
Q: What efforts were made to promote a green environment on set?
SD: We are conscious of it. The most that I can say, in terms of on set, was just the recycling and that kind of stuff that we did. From a line production or physical production standpoint, I know Warner Bros. in general is incredibly conscientious about that. They definitely work with the physical production people to try and do as much as possible. But again, when you’re actually on set every day, what you’re noticing more is just making sure that everything that can be recycled is and then everything else is even a bit more behind the scenes than we are.
JS: Moviemaking is a very clean business and it’s always been clean. It’s one of the cleanest industries that we have in America. We don’t really manufacture anything. Most of the film things that we did that did create difficult issues, most of the film is gone. I mean, 75% of the people see the movie digitally. We’re proud to say that we’re a very clean business, and wherever we go, we’re conscious of that.
Q: Robert, did you and Jude improvise a lot?
RDJ: You know, I think the goal is to make a well written scene seem like it’s improvised and/or to come up with things that you find in the room that you couldn’t have known until you get into the real situation, just try to improve things as you go along. Jude, by the way, would’ve been here but, uh, his son had a soccer game. To answer the question about green, what came to mind was I just remember that every animal that was harmed was promptly taxidermied and sent as a gift to one of the many ecological companies that have these sorts of huge concerns that I validate.
Q: Robert, were there a lot more physical challenges in the sequel?
RDJ: As far as me being in shape, I think you and I should probably talk about that for a half an hour as it is my favorite topic.
Q: Noomi, what was the most difficult scene either emotionally or physically?
NR: I like doing fight scenes and those more physical scenes. I always enjoy that and I try to do as much as they allow me to do of the stunt stuff and the more complicated things. I think that’s always quite easy. You just have to kind of crack on and do it. Of course, you’re bruised and your body is aching. You hurt yourself a lot sometimes but that’s kind of a part of it. I’ve done fight scenes and stuff like that before and I always find it quite amusing in a way. I think that the emotional scenes, like in the end when I lose a person that I really love and I feel kind of guilty for letting him down, that was quite complicated because you need to really get into that situation. There were a lot of people around me. It was a room full of people and everybody was watching. In a way, you feel like you just want to hide and do it privately, but of course you need to do what’s real in the situation. It’s always the emotional situations that are more tricky to nail and to get into because I don’t want to pretend. Weird enough, I don’t like to pretend. I try to use things in me and translate them into the situation and the characters. It always needs to run through my own veins in a way. It was the emotional scenes that were more difficult to find my way into because I’m self-critical as well, so I don’t want to pretend.
Q: Guy, this film was so much fun. Did you aim to make it a romp?
GR: Yeah. I mean, they are fun to make. They’re also very hard work but I don’t want the hard work to take away from the fun factor. I enjoy going to work and I think everyone else here does. So they are tremendous fun to make. They’re pretty spontaneous. A lot of the film is spontaneous in terms of the levity of the humor, the spontaneity of the humor. A lot of that is organic. We’ve got something on the page and what we try and do is trump it. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t, but just the game of trumping keeps everyone stimulated.
Q: For the writers, Michele and Kieran, can you talk about how you drew the line between Holmes’ madness and his genius?
MM: In the first movie, these guys walked that line so brilliantly and what was fun, I think, for these guys playing it, Jared and Robert, was here we had another genius in the movie in the form of Moriarty and a person with no moral compass in the form of Moriarty so what you got to see was Holmes having to redraw his own boundaries in terms of what he was willing to do emotionally and psychologically to combat this foe. So that was fun to try and construct and it was very gratifying to see what these guys did in that arena when he finally met his match literally and got somebody that he could go toe to toe with psychologically.
Q: Can you elaborate on the process of writing a script that’s full of mind games and puzzles but at the same time is funny?
MM: It was a team effort leaping off with all of these guys from the first movie and spending a lot of time and eating a lot of food around tables and hashing out what we all thought was going to be a worthy story to follow the first story. I think when we, the new kids on the block, came in here, the goals were to make the movie a little darker because here was Moriarty and a little bigger, but absolutely not lose that sense of fun between Holmes and Watson from the first movie. So it was the process of all of us sitting together and hashing that out, and then some periods of us being alone and lonely and typing things out, and then coming back into rooms and shouting and laughing and doing it again. It was a long and fun process of examining this thing from every possible angle to make sure it was advancing down the field and equaling or bettering the first movie. That was a hard challenge.
KM: One of the things we got from Lionel, the story in the first one was largely Lionel’s, and what we learned from working with him is that a mystery like this, particularly a classically structured mystery that’s worthy of Sherlock Holmes, has to be written backwards. We, the team of writers, know what the answer to the mystery is but we want to hide it from everybody. So you start at the end and go backwards the other way, and it’s the things that you find along that backwards journey that turn into the mind games and turn into the clues and the ones that mislead and the ones that direct and things like that. Part of the process which was so lovely working with this team as the new kids coming in the second time around is that they knew the secrets to mystery writing for this sort of classical approach.
Q: For Susan and Michele, this is a film about two guys and their friendship, but it seems that a conscious effort was made to let the women be dynamic. Was it on the page? Did you insist upon it?
MM: Well we started out obviously with this idea that there was going to be another female character in addition to Irene Adler from the first movie in this movie, and Susan and I, all of us including the men, said let’s make her strong and let’s make her determined and let’s make her emotional and let’s make her fully fleshed out. The Gypsy part was fun to play with and out of that came some really cool things that Noomi did that you guys nurtured and came up with. Even though I think we all felt that Holmes doesn’t necessarily wake up in the morning thinking about his life with women, there is a part of him that is awakened by the partnership and the challenge of strong women around him. So yes.
SD: Fortunately, I didn’t have to insist on anything because everybody was on board with the idea. If you’re going to put a female with all these guys – and I mean Jude and Robert but also Guy and the villain character of Moriarty – if you don’t want her to just disappear, she has to be strong or she’s going to be so overpowered and so uninteresting. So you need someone who can rise to the occasion and you try to build it into the characterization. You try to build it on the page. But then, it’s about casting the right person who can show up and who can stand their ground with these guys, and Noomi did such a fantastic job. We had it with Rachel (McAdams) in the first movie and a little bit of her in this one, and then with Noomi coming in, you’ve heard how she was looking for that challenge. You have to do that out of necessity.
Q: Robert, have you ever had a guy-guy friendship or bromance like Holmes and Watson?
RDJ: Yeah, well, Jude and I are pretty close but Guy and I are practically brothers which makes things really interesting. There have been times when I’ve wanted to lop off his head with a machete, but it’s just because I love you so much. You know what I mean?
RDJ: There’s no one you love more really, is there? Think about it?
JH: The first time I saw these guys, they were standing in front of each other and they were playing this sort of flinching game with each other where they were taking little kicks at each other — they both do martial arts training — at each other’s nuts. You lost if you moved out of the way. It’s like the karate version of Russian roulette.
Q: At your nuts?
GR: Have you never played this game?
Q: What about the camouflage costumes? That was so cool.
RDJ: Thank you. By the way, those are the kind of questions I like. I mean, what about? That was so cool.
Q: Given the high budget and the high stakes involved, how did taking on this franchise change your approach, and how did it change the second time around?
GR: You know, I started making music videos for 250 pounds and incrementally worked my way up the ladder. So, by the time I got here, zeros weren’t as intimidating. The most intimidating thing I ever made was a music video for 250 pounds, so much so I shared the blame with another director. But after you get over the initial shock, then zeros become zeros and it all becomes ambiguous after that. What I’ve found is, I’ve made films where I’ve struggled against almost everyone and I didn’t have that issue with these two films. I’ve sort of had the reverse process that most independent filmmakers are supposed to have, which is you wait until you work for the man and then the man beats you down. I had exactly the opposite of that. I’ve had nothing but the man beating me up. It’s a bigger sandbox with more friends. So, from my perspective, it’s the direction in which I’ve enjoyed going in. I’m not sure if the pressure’s there any more than it was on my 250 pound music video. You set out to do something and you set out to do the best that you can do, and you try and cross those bridges as elegantly and as creatively as you can. That’s the only thing that occupies my time on a daily basis.
Q: Robert and Jared, what was it like doing the first scene as Moriarty and Holmes? Did the relationship grow as you had more scenes?
JH: We had about six weeks before we actually started shooting and we shot the very end first. That was the first thing we did so that kind of helped in terms of focusing our attention on what needed to be in the other scenes before you got to that one. I think the rapport that was there is he’s a lovely guy. The inclusion and the welcoming of ideas that Guy and Robert had makes you feel right away that you’ve got something worthwhile. Even if they don’t like your ideas, they’ll sit there and nod politely. They just never circle back to them, but bad ideas are good ideas because any idea when you’re looking for an idea is welcome. Sometimes it might be some shitty idea that you came up with and three weeks later a little kernel of that is used somewhere. So, you feel part of the group.
RDJ: All right, now let me tell you the other half. He would come in and we’d have a scene that he’s shooting in two days and he’d be like, “Is this going to pretty much stay like this?” I was like, “Not a word of it.” “Can I have something that I can study the night before?” I’d say, “I’m going to venture a no on the possibility of yes.” It would be like that and the stakes were so high in every scene, and then there’s complicated camera shots and stuff like this. It’s pretty terrifying, but what really happened is we noticed with Jared that he kept pushing toward it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t like I don’t want to be embarrassed and I want to do a good job and I want to come off great and I want great dialogue. It kept going back to this archetype that you were trying to represent. Then there would be stuff where we were all in a groove with a fight team and he’d come in and be like, “Okay, we’re going to do this.” Guy was just introducing something the stunt team had found kind of by accident, a way of shooting something super super super slow as opposed to Phantom stuff we had done before. Next thing you know, he’s doing a rehearsal scene with our fight guys. Everything Jared Harris did in the course of making this movie was essentially thrown at him with very little time to prepare and also talked about a lot philosophically as opposed to actually getting ready to do it in a professional way. So it was shock and awe. I think what he brought back with him was something that was just so particularly him and the essence of you while still being this character. It honestly is the main reason that the movie works, but it was also an exercise in trial by fire for you. And you were really quite nice. Once in a while you would say, “I really just beg of you, if I could even have a semblance of knowing what I might say, I guarantee you I could do a better job with it because I wouldn’t be like you, Robert, for this long scene that you just wrote wearing an earwig where someone’s telling you what to say in the other room. I would actually know what I was going to say.” I’d be like, “Interesting, yeah, everyone has their own process.” Guy told him to go home and he wanted him to come back singing a German aria the next day. Nobody learns a German aria overnight, except Jared Harris.
Q: What are the things you keep in mind as you try to stick to the basics of Sherlock, but also blow it up differently?
RDJ: Well, you just keep Doyle in mind because I just respect the guy more and more. I think the other thing is oftentimes what’s required, particularly if you’re in any central position, is you just have to let go. You have to let go of the things that are darling to you. You have to take the focus off yourself and put it on the shape of the scene and the intention of what everyone else needs. You have to give people something to actually write music to so you’re not just running your mouth all the time.
NR: It was also quite incredible how Susan (Downey) and Lionel (Wigram) always kept an eye over everything. Sometimes when we flew away and wanted to do things and had all those great ideas, you kind of navigated us back. It felt like you had the whole story inside you and you knew the books and everything. It felt like amazing teamwork.
RDJ: It was a democracy in the truest and most frustrating and most rewarding sense of the word. Anybody could come in and say, “You know, I’m just not cool with that.” We’d be like, “Who’s that?” “Oh, I was just cleaning the trailers.” It was nuts.
Q: Having done two of these, do you feel a sense of ownership towards Sherlock? Do you have any interest in the other portrayals?
RDJ: Yeah, I kinda like everybody. Whenever I watch someone doing something, even if it doesn’t turn out so great, I at least admire their intentions and stuff. I know that there’s some kind of quintessential performances that have happened out there. I’ve heard more about the series than I’ve seen, but I’m intrigued by it. I think it’s important that we’re all part of the same collective of honoring this great writer and his stories.
Q: Joel, with so many franchises that you’ve been a part of, where does Sherlock Holmes fit in your lifetime and what does it mean to you?
JS: I am a fan of serial fiction as evidenced by all the multiple movies I’ve done that were franchises, and of course, I like the lucrative nature of dealing with a franchise which is very exciting. Each one of these movies that we started, and even “The Matrix” in a way, they were never planned to continue. They were just an idea that was successful and then let’s find a way to keep telling that story. With Sherlock, there really is an opportunity to continue telling the story. I mean, they’re doing Bond #23 now. I don’t know how long it will take us to get to Sherlock #23, but I do think that this is a character that can survive in so many ways. We’re talking about maybe taking the next one completely to America, so I mean there are so many ways that the character can live and thrive. The fact that we have this incredible Jude and Robert chemistry is just fantastic. I always say here are these guys that literally ad lib in 19th century English and they can just go for it. It’s incredible. People will always say this: the movie of the making of this movie would have been as exciting as the movie itself. But, just seeing them work together and how Guy and everybody is so involved, it’s just a fantastic family and it’s a great feeling when we know we’ve done something that is special and that everybody is seeing it and enjoying it like we did.
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” opens in theaters on December 16th.