Interview with Mark Gatiss of Sherlock
AFG: First off, I am big fan of your work and I think Sherlock is fantastic—how have you managed to please so many people from so many walks of life? I have friends from ages twenty to seventy who love the show.
MG: We’ve always seen it as a restoration, not a reboot, so what you’re talking about is the popularity of the original stories and characters. That’s why people love Sherlock Holmes. Our version has obviously struck a chord, and that’s wonderfully gratifying, but it all comes down to Conan Doyle and the genius of the original creation.
AFG: The thing I’d like to know as a fan is, will this keep on going?
MG: We hope so—Benedict and Martin and everybody are very keen to carry on. The unfortunate side effect of having a worldwide success is that our leads have become international superstars. It is increasingly difficult to get our stars’ diaries to coalesce, but we’ll do our best.
AFG: You make a great Mycroft but a very different one from all the adaptations—unlike Doyle’s lazy Mycroft portrayed by Charles Gray or Stephen Fry, you’re very much the opposite.
MG: I’m not sure that’s true. We’ve got a joke—because the original Mycroft is very fat—that Sherlock is always having a go at him about his weight, he’s paranoid of putting on weight, so that’s our version of that. But he’s lazy in the sense that he can’t be bothered to do the legwork; that’s why, as in the original story, he’d rather that three people thought he was wrong than bother. In our version, he sort of uses Sherlock as his legs, and he’ll sort a few things out. Sort of an “Oh, you do it, I can’t be bothered.” He’s obviously very busy elsewhere, but not in a sort of physical way really, I would say.
AFG: Tell us about the Victorian laboratory you had built in your home.
MG: This was essentially a folly. About fifteen years ago, my partner and I bought a house, and we had a room that was going begging. Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted a laboratory, and I successfully lobbied to have one. Essentially it was just a Victorian room, little red walls and gas lamps and all this chemical equipment. It was very beautiful. It was a very good lesson in life because essentially what I wanted when I was eight wasn’t necessarily what I wanted when I was forty. It was always the tidiest room in the house because of course I did nothing in it except show it to people. I thought, there’s a lesson here; this is about growing up. Stopping my arrested development. I’ve got most of the stuff still, but it’s kind of scattered around the house, being used as furniture.
AFG: Which Holmes story would you say stands out as your favorite?
MG: My favorite is “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans.” It’s a late story but it’s a marvelous story. It’s every bit as good as the early ones. I love it, it’s a brilliant deduction, it’s got the London Tube in it; it’s kind of got everything for me. It’s a dark, stormy one—stolen submarine plans, German agents—it’s got the lot.
AFG: I read that you’re playing Dracula—why the fascination with Drac!
MG: Because I am a vampire!