Earlier this year, Den of Geek spoke to Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch on the set of Sherlock as the duo filmed the soon-to-be-released holiday special The Abominable Bride. The two actors revealed lots of interesting info on the differences between modern-day and Victorian Sherlock and John, so we’ve culled some of the best bits for you here.
First up, the question of the hour: how will the new time period change Sherlock and John’s relationship? Both actors caution that the core of their dynamic will remain the same. The two will still have their characteristic banter and sharp wit, though as Freeman points out, “…they’re finding slightly more polite ways of doing it, as befits gentlemen.” Don’t get too worried that the pair will fall too far out of character, however. When asked about his character’s lack of tact, Cumberbatch responded:
…He is still rude because he cuts through mediocrity. He’s a meritician, it’s a meritocracy, so it doesn’t matter if you’re Lord and Lady such-what or if you’re driving a hansom cab, or if you’re one of the Baker Street boys, it’s just purely about what your worth is and your qualities, it’s not about social standing. So yeah, he is still rude.
Thank goodness. And what about the killer Victorian costumes? Cumberbatch is a lot more thrilled than Freeman about the costume change, though the latter is still pleased. “It’s fine, it’s slightly frustrating because you can’t get dressed on your own,” says Freeman. Cumberbatch reveals that his first reaction after hearing about the period piece was that he could finally get a haircut, and that filming in the Victorian era has been a joy.
It’s so nice to play him in his era. The things that are slightly more heavy-lifting in the modern era in that there’s a man clearly slightly out of his time, it’s put him back in the era that he’s written in originally, it’s a joy. It feels easier to a degree. It’s just things that I tried to impose a little bit on our modern version, things like physicality, stature, a lot of that’s done by the body of the clothing and collars and the deerstalker and cape, so that’s an absolute delight.
Cumberbatch’s enthusiasm for the period even extends beyond this episode. The actor is not opposed to portraying a Victorian Sherlock another time, if a period-set episode makes sense. He also mentions that he would have been on board with an era-accurate Holmes from the start, a sentiment Freeman echoes:
I would if the writing had still been as good, absolutely I would. I was resistant to it because it was modern. Before I’d read it, I thought ‘Oh, modern Sherlock Holmes, could that be…you know. Well, it could clearly be rubbish because most things are rubbish whether they’re modern or old or whatever. I was resistant to it but I saw how good the writing was. Now if it had been set in the Stone Age, then or now or whenever, if the writing is that good, I’m always up for that. This version, this script I would have thought was always good.
Check out the interviews in full here (for Freeman’s) and here (for Cumberbatch’s) if you want to find out about how Mary fits into the episode, the fate of John’s facial hair, and the longevity of Sherlock’s Belstaff coat.
The Abominable Bride will air New Year’s day, 2016 on BBC One and BBC America.