He's the ultimate outsider hero. He's a very difficult, odd entity. To the Victorian eye he's an eccentric, but I think he has purposely repressed those things. So in my mind the idea (as it is in the original book), it seems born out of how he views women and humanity in general.
As a child, I think he basically really did put all that stuff aside. In this series, it's about him coming to terms with the fact that he can do a better job if he has a little bit of morality, feeling and emotion; to be able to play with those things without necessarily being taken over by them. I just think that enriches the character.
With any interpretation of this character, everyone has their own goals or starting point. For me, the idea that we're doing him young at the beginning is terrific, whilst we're adhering to a lot of the details in the book. I always go back to them as source for decisions on physicality, mood and/or temperament. It's done with such a forensic eye that you'd be a fool to turn your back on the original books.
And it's written by true fan boys. Steve and Mark are no doubt the biggest fans of Sherlock Holmes ever. They're getting to do what any fan would ever want to do -- sit in that world. We're honoring it and we're also giving it a modern twist by bringing it into the 20th century. That's our idea, it's the BBC's idea. We're very proud of them for letting us do it. We love doing it. It's great to be here. Such an extraordinary thing happened with the series: it's become a national obsession. My stock's gone up a bit, as has Martin's.
About that stock…what can you tell me about your role in the upcoming "Star Trek" film?
I'm having great fun on "Star Trek," but I can't talk about it. It's nice to have variety in your work.
That was the only way I could record my audition and send it. It was the middle of Christmas and all of the casting directors in the UK were on holiday, so I had to do it myself. I did in a kitchen. Kind of old fashioned but with new technology -- a bit like Sherlock I guess.
Did you don any prosthetics for the on-camera audition?
Prosthetics, did you wear any?
The line's really bad, I can't hear what you're saying. [Maniacal laugh]
I hear what you're saying. You're not going to draw me out.
I'm not getting anything from you, am I.
No you're not [laughs].
Just listening to you speak, I'm reminded of Sherlock. You're a fast, but very calculated speaker. You seem to operate at warp speed compared to us mere mortals.
I wish I did.
Just before we started, this lady's hand reached over to dial the numbers on the telephone key pad. I went, "You've a cat haven't you? Have you traveled with it recently?" And she's like, "Yes I have a cat, and I've just been on a plane with it." I guess I've got a tiny smudge of his perception talents.