McAdams and Downey, Jr. at a panelto promote the film at the 2009 SanDiego Comic-Con
Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes. A bohemianscientist and eccentric detective-for-hire who becomes awanted fugitive in his hunt for Lord Blackwood, whileconstantly followed by the presence of Professor Moriarty.Downey was visiting Joel Silver's offices with his wife,producer Susan Downey, when he learned about theproject.
Ritchie initially felt Downey was too old for therole because he wanted the film to show a younger Holmes on a learning curve like
Ritchiedecided to take a chance on casting him in the role, andDowney told the BBC that "I think me and Guy arewell-suited to working together. The more I look into the books, the more fantastic it becomes.Holmes is such a weirdo".
Downey also revealed what his wife had to say: "that when you readthe description of the guy — quirky and kind of nuts — it could be a description of me".
Downeyintended to focus more on Holmes' patriotic side and his bohemianism, and felt that his work on
has prepared him for an English accent.
Ritchie feels his accent is "flawless".
BothDowney and Ritchie are martial arts enthusiasts, and have been inspired by the Baritsu mentionedin the 1901 story
The Adventure of the Empty House
Downey lost weight for the part, becauseduring a chat he had with Chris Martin, Martin recommended that Holmes look "gaunt" and"skinny".
Jude Law as Dr. John Watson, Holmes' companion and close friend, who is also a surgeon and aveteran of the Second Afghan War. Law's Watson is more like the original character, who wasmore of a colleague, rather than the bumbling fool that actor Nigel Bruce popularised in the1930s–40s films.
Law previously appeared in the Granada Television series
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
, in an episode based on
The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place
. Being aHolmes fan, Law recognised there was material unexplored in other adaptations and was intriguedby Downey's casting; Law was cast because he had a positive meeting with Downey andconcurred the film would have to explore Holmes and Watson's friendship. Downey believed byemphasizing Watson's qualities as a former soldier, a doctor, a womaniser and a gambler, it wouldmake for a more interesting foil for Holmes.
Law made a notebook of phrases from the storiesto improvise into his dialogue.
Ritchie originally envisioned Russell Crowe in the role.
Mark Strong as Lord Henry Blackwood, the main antagonist. An aristocratic serial killer dabbling inthe occult to compel others to do his bidding. Having returned after his execution, Blackwoodunravels plans to control the British Empire. He is given many supernatural elements to hischaracter, and his presence is usually accompanied by a menacing crow. Strong worked withdirector Ritchie for the third time and said he appreciates the director's lack of ego and how easyhe is to work with.
Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, an American
from New Jersey who outwittedHolmes twice, as chronicled in Doyle's story
A Scandal in Bohemia
In the film, Adler is nolonger married to Godfrey Norton and needs Holmes' help for the case.
Downey convincedRitchie to cast McAdams, arguing she would not look too young to be his love interest.
Kelly Reilly as Mary Morstan. Watson wishes to marry her, causing a conflict with Holmes.
Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade.
Hans Matheson as Lord Coward, the Home Secretary. Blackwood's right-hand man, who assistedBlackwood in all his murders and was the only one of his allies aware of Blackwood's usage of technology to feign magical powers.Geraldine James as Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock Holmes' landlady. This is James' second Holmes film.
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