Their Pre-Sherlock Days


by Noor Alnaqeeb (@nooralnaqeeb)

While we wait for a killer episode to emerge from the abyss of post-hiatus filler-episode-world, I thought I’d approach this Sherlock versus Elementary installment in a different way. Making not as much of a comparison but a general list of why each character began, or continues, with the potential to be great.

It goes without saying that Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are outstanding actors, but let’s look at their track record to pinpoint exactly why they are as good as they are and how their previous roles bring something exceptional and unique to each Sherlock/Watson performance.

Lucy Liu

We are all well aware that Lucy Liu can kick some serious butt due to her serious-butt-kicking in Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill. While her Watson-esque passion for justice beyond the lines of the law is mirrored in Charlie’s Angels and her doctor skills and thirst for crime-solving can be seen in Lucky Number Slevin; it’s Kung Fu Panda that takes the cake. Kill Bill may have given her mind the ability to say, “I know Kung Fu,” but Kung Fu Panda certainly gave her the quirk and light-hearted humor to go with it. Otherwise, all work and no play would’ve made Watson a very dull run-of-the mill crime scene investigator.

Martin Freeman

Although John Watson doesn’t seem like much of a hobbit, Freeman’s peculiar mannerisms scream the title “Eccentric Doctor with a Genius Detective Best Friend.” Martin Freeman has been in romantic comedies and dramas showcasing the sensitivity that Watson exudes and Sherlock lacks, but the standout Watson role has to be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The plotline? An unassuming man has his world turned upside after being thrown into an adventure to change the fate of the world and reverse its mankind’s annihilation. Sound familiar? Adventure, socially awkward behavior and the humble ability to do something great while maintaining an endearing charm; some might call it “An Unexpected Journey.”

Jonny Lee Miller

Miller has been in his fair share of classical period dramas such as Emma and Mansfield Park, carrying himself believably as the romantic type (very un-Sherlock of him). He has also been a suspected gang leader, an estranged father, a soldier and a priest. Mr. Miller has quite a repertoire under his belt, but the most Sherlockian movie I could find has to be Hackers. A genius teenager is arrested by the secret service after creating a super computer virus. Hm. Sounds like something Sherlock would do while waiting for the kettle to boil.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Much like Miller, Cumberbatch has a list of characters behind him that would make your head spin. Among playing Stephen Hawking and Van Gogh, he has also been a member of the King’s Court in The Other Boleyn Girl, a spy in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a major in War Horse, and a villain in a little something called Star Trek: Into Darkness. Oh, and did I mention he’s played J. R. R. Tolkien’s Smaug? Cumberbatch definitely knows how to play up his evil side. Although none of the roles he has played are directly indicative of Sherlock Holmes, he brings the same undeniable talent that he brings to every character he personifies, whether a renowned artist, a fictional dragon or a consulting detective.

Speaking of talent, the common denominator between both Watsons and both Sherlocks in both series is that they are all dedicated to bringing forward the story that Sherlock Holmes fans are so eager to watch. So whether they offer quirk, class, charm or Kung Fu to the mix, every interpretation is amiable. All they have to do is remain true to the essence of the character and true to their own understandings of the individuals they have been given the chance to embody. Would you like nachos with that cheese? Yes, please. And while you’re at it pass me A Scandal in Bohemia.

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