'Sherlock Holmes': Guy Ritchie on the Origins of Robert Downey Jr.'s Action-Hero Detective

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Some children receive candy or extra screen time as a reward for good behavior. Growing up, Guy Ritchie’s prize was listening to Sherlock Holmes stories on cassette tape. “Someone used to play the stories to me,” the British filmmaker — who most recently directed King Arthur: Legend of the Sword — remembers. “If I was good, I’d get the whole story. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t.” (Watch our video interview with Ritchie above.)

So it’s no wonder that Ritchie eventually went on to bring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation to life on the big screen. 2009’s Sherlock Holmes and its 2011 sequel, A Game of Shadows, both starred Robert Downey Jr. — still fresh off the initial success of the Iron Man films — as the legendary Baker Street detective, while Jude Law played his right-hand man, Dr. Watson. Far from a traditional retelling of those mysteries, Ritchie’s movies played up Holmes’s action-hero qualities, with plenty of pit fights and explosions. That depiction grew out of his childhood enthusiasm for the character. “I had a vision of who Sherlock Holmes should be, and that was really informed by my childhood story sessions,” says the director, who may still reunite with Downey to make a third entry. “I made the movie … that I would want to see. That’s the yardstick I think you have to stick to as a filmmaker.”

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