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Benedict Cumberbatch Feels "Cynical" About U.S. Sherlock 'Elementary,' Would've Preferred If Jonny Lee Miller Didn't Do It

by Joe Cunningham
August 31, 2012 9:55 AM
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Sherlock” will go back in front of cameras again next January with an eye on airing later in 2013, but before we get a chance to see Benedict Cumberbatch again as the super sleuth, we’ll be more than familiar with another take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation. “Elementary,” starring Jonny Lee Miller as a modern day (but New York-based) Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson, will debut with the first of its 13 episodes on CBS on September 27th. The relationship between the two projects is not the best as we documented when reporting on Miller’s casting earlier this year.

Creator Stephan Moffat and producer Sue Vertue have already weighed in on the project, and Benedict Cumberbatch (who is awfully fond of speaking out about things) has finally added his two cents in an interview with U.K. magazine Shortlist. Here’s what he had to say about "Elementary" and the casting of his “Frankenstein” co-star (in which the pair swapped roles each night) in particular: “Jonny [Lee Miller] asked me if I was all right with him doing it. I said, ‘What are the similarities?’ And he went, ‘Well it’s modern…’ I went, ‘Oh.’ Then he said, ‘Lucy Liu’s going to play Joan Watson…’ And I went, ‘Oh.’ I got hold of the pilot script just to check it out. I don’t know, we’ll see. I think there’s room for us both to coexist. I don’t feel threatened by it and I wish him the best, which is as diplomatic as I can be."

“It’s very odd. I did say, ‘Well, I’d prefer you didn’t do it but you’ve got a kid to feed, a nice house in LA and a wife to keep in good clothes,’ " he continued. "When you get used to a certain standard of living and they waft a pay check at you, what are you going to do? I think Jonny was like, ‘Mate, I’ve got the f***ing mountain to climb here [to reach the acclaim of 'Sherlock'], you’ve got nothing to fear.’ I wish him the best of luck, but I’m a bit cynical about why they’ve chosen to do it and why they cast him.”

So basically, Benny’s a bit pissed off, but not with his mate Jonny – just with CBS and their cash-in project. We’re sure the CBS show will be able to co-exist with the BBC version, and who knows, it could actually be really good. The mistrust probably stems from the way that CBS went about developing the show, and so in that regard we can completely understand the scepticism with which those involved with “Sherlock” are viewing “Elementary.” But whatever happens, ultimately it’s unlikely to have much impact on the U.K. show. Cumberbatch is seeing his career go from strength to strength right now, Moffat has Sherlock and “Doctor Who” on the go, making him one of the most successful men in the U.K. television industry, and the show itself has a huge group of passionate/borderline psychotic fans who love the show and Cumberbatch unconditionally. See you in the comments section guys.

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  • Bonjour | September 1, 2012 12:38 AMReply

    Borderline psychopath reporting in sir!

  • Luke | August 31, 2012 9:20 PMReply

    This guy complains non stop. I swear every time a damn interview comes out he is bitching about being posh or whatever this is. He needs to just shut up and act because his personality sucks.

  • goldfarb | August 31, 2012 8:15 PMReply

    "...passionate/borderline psychotic fans who love the show and Cumberbatch unconditionally."

    truer words were never spoken.

  • Jeff | August 31, 2012 7:35 PMReply

    Because no one had ever played Sherlock Holmes before Cumberbatch? Oh, wait...

    Because there had never been a modern-day adaptation before? Oh, wait...

    I can't imagine why casting Lucy Liu as Watson is giving him pause. Martin Freeman is not a Chinese woman.

  • Alli | September 1, 2012 11:04 PM

    that last bit about getting back to loving the show and not taking everything in magazines as god's truth or whatever was my addition, not Mr. Cumberbatch's

  • Alli | September 1, 2012 11:01 PM

    This whole thing is a misquote purposefully made to be inflammatory.

    Here's what Benedict had to say about it:

    “I am both bemused and upset at this misquote. I never said that Johnny took the job for the paycheck nor did I ask him not to do it. What I said is I would have preferred not to be in the situation where we will again be compared because we are friends. I know for a fact his motivations were to do with the quality of the script and the challenges of this exceptional role.

    “It is baffling because I have only been supportive of an incredibly talented actor who I am proud to call a friend taking a job I know he is going to enjoy immensely and be wonderful in.

    “Over 70 actors have played this exceptional character before us. To say that there can be only one Holmes would be ludicrous. We’re both thrilled to get the opportunity to play him in a modern context. The world of Sherlock Holmes and the world that we live in now is big enough to take more than one interpretation. As a genuine Sherlock Holmes fan I am greatly looking forward to his series.”

    Ok? Are we done? Can we go back to just being fans of the show and the novels and everything Holmesian now without taking every word we read in a magazine as gospel?

  • Alan | August 31, 2012 9:19 PM

    Yes, there have been previous adaptations of the story, but it is cynical for CBS to look at 'Sherlock' and say, "ooh, we want a version of that, but we don't want to pay the other team for their actual ideas." 'Elementary' (the stupidest title ever, mind you) looks like what it is: a cash-in.

  • triguous | August 31, 2012 6:03 PMReply

    I'll watch Elementary to see Miller as I've been a fan of his since Hackers and Trainspotting. I'm still bitter that his show Eli Stone was canceled, but I'm glad to see him back on a series.

  • Martina | August 31, 2012 9:57 PM

    You and me both. Eli Stone was amazing.

  • Law | August 31, 2012 11:18 AMReply

    yeah, I read the interview. no, that doesn't feel cynical to me. but that just me.

  • beardy man-child | August 31, 2012 10:45 AMReply

    What if they had a special finale episode of boht shows, were both Sherlocks run into each other, and then as they look each other in the eye, shake hands and say aloud "I loved you in Fraken...." a tear in the fabric of space time will appear and kill everyone.

  • beardy man-child | August 31, 2012 10:45 AM

    oops typo meant to be "both" not boht

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