The entire time I wrote at Ain't It Cool News under the name of "Moriarty," I was inundated with Sherlock Holmes knick-knacks and trinkets and toys and books and other Arthur Conan Doyle ephemera. People sent me truly amazing things over the years, all celebrating Sherlock Holmes and his most infamous of opponents, Professor Moriarty. Just recently, a friend gifted me with this stunning hand-crafted chess set using all of the characters in the stories to represent both sides of the board.
It is inevitable that the producers of the big giant "Sherlock Holmes" series for Warner Bros. are going to bring the good Professor into the films. In the first one, he has handled as a shadowy figure, with only his hands showing. There have been any number of rumors about who would play the part in the sequel, with names including Brad Pitt and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Now it looks like the role has officially been filled, and the choice is somewhat surprising. It seems like they're not trying to just find a big movie star for the part, but have instead gone with an actor whose onscreen intelligence will be a fair match for Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes. That's the key, since you have to put someone in the part who will seem like a righteous challenge for the character, and since Moriarty is the only person who Holmes is intellectually challenged by, we have to sense that onscreen.
If you've seen the BBC's recent series, "Sherlock," then it's obvious that these characters still have a lot of flexibility left in them. You can refigure them in many different ways, as long as the core relationships are intact and as long as you're playing with the classic version of the characters for a reason. What I liked about the Guy Ritchie film is that it's a very modern take, but in a period setting, and they're not running from the history of the characters, but they're also not just telling the same stories that Holmes fans already know.
I'm excited to see what they do with Moriarty as a character. If you know Jared Harris's work, then you know how good he can be. He's excellent on "Mad Men" right now, and he's been building this amazing character actor resume steadily for about twenty years now. It's hard sometimes when your father is a legend, like Richard Harris undeniably is, but Jared Harris has absolutely established his own identity as a performer, and I think it's really strong casting.
Now let's see if they've got a story to support all these players.
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