Robert Downey Jr. As Sherlock Holmes?

As the old show biz saying goes, you are only as successful as your last hit and with Iron Man having pulled in over half a billion dollars at the box office worldwide, star Robert Downey Jr. could easily be considered highly successful at this moment.

As such, Downey is being flooded with offers. Brett Ratner has already stated how he is after Downey to star in his planned bio-pic of Payboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner. Entertainment Weekly‘s Hollywood Insider blog, has named a number of other potential films that actor is considering-

In recent weeks, the 43-year old actor has had his eye on various projects, including Twentieth Century Fox’s Travis McGee (based on John D. MacDonald’s detective series), Warner Bros.’ Sherlock Holmes update from director Guy Ritchie [and] Gary Ross’ fantasy/comedy Dog Years at Universal…

MacDonald’s Travis McGee character is a wisecracking playboy gumshoe and has appeared in a string of novels from the 1960s through the 1980s. Given his work in Iron Man, it is understandable why he might be offered the role. Very little is known about Ross’ Dog Years except that it has been in development at Universal for a number of years.

But Downey looking at joining Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes project is perhaps the most intriguing item on the list. It also raises a number of questions, chief of which is “What role would Downey play?” One immediately thinks of Holmes himself. Given the character’s own history of drug addiction, dealt with cinematically in director Herbert Ross’s The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), Downey could certainly bring something unique to the role.

However, if Downey were cast as Holmes or even Dr. Watson, and hopefully moving the character away from the bumbler he has usually been portrayed as, we have to wonder if Downey can do a convincing British accent? The reverse of this question asks if Ritchie’s reinterpretation of Holmes somehow unthinkably transplants the detective across the Atlantic, a move I doubt that the British-born Ritchie would make.

A third alternative is that perhaps Downey is not looking at the Holmes role so much as perhaps the villain of the piece. An Americanized Professor Moriarty or perhaps Moriarty’s chief lieutenant Colonel Sebastian Moran?

Additionally, Downey has the Iron Man sequel that Marvel Studios has already scheduled for an April 30, 2010 release, as part of their long term strategy to lead into an Avengers superhero team-up film. Marvel seems to have neglected to consult with Iron Man‘s director Jon Favreau on this plan, which has lead to some high profile bickering over the last week or so. It is a situation that Marvel and Favreau need to resolve pronto before it places Marvel’s overall production plans in jeopardy.

But even if Iron Man 2 were to fall through for some reason, Downey looks like he should have plenty of gainful employment in the foreseeable future.

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About Rich Drees 7078 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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William Gatevackes
William Gatevackes
June 13, 2008 11:31 am

Downey did a fairly good British accent in Chaplin. So, that shouldn’t be a problem.

And who knows how much Ritchie is going to update the Holmes franchise. Maybe Holmes will be American?

June 13, 2008 12:20 pm

If they are going to do Sherlock, do not change the character. Sherlock is British. I could see Downey as Holmes, no issues. Totally agree with the Watson request—do not imitate Nigel Bruce, and take a lesson from the Granada series. IMO, Nigle is the worst Watson in the hisotry of the film canon.