Here's how Henry Cavill prepared to play Sherlock in Netflix's 'Enola Holmes'

08:14 PM Sep 27, 2020 | PTI

New Delhi: Hollywood star Henry Cavill says he worked closely with "Enola Holmes" director Harry Bradbeer to tap into the emotional side of famed fictional detective Sherlock Holmes who is otherwise known for being analytical.

Cavill's portrayal in the movie, a sharp feminist drama that focuses on Sherlock's equally-smart sister Enola in the Victorian London, stands apart from the many screen iterations of the iconic Arthur Conan Doyle creation. For the British actor it was important that the character has an "open emotionality" and is seen as a supportive sibling to Millie Bobby Brown's Enola.


"For Sherlock, Harry and I worked together very closely throughout the rehearsals to find something which was strongly connected to me. And that was the emotional side of it. In this story it was important that Sherlock has that open emotionality, because without it Enola doesn't have the same support that she needs in that society to allow her to become the women she is becoming," Cavill told PTI in a Zoom roundtable interview.


The movie, which started streaming on Netflix from Wednesday, features Brown as Enola, an intelligent 16-year-old who has received an unusual upbringing from her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) following the death of her father while her two brothers - Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Cavill), are in London.

In an era where women are not accorded much agency, Enola embarks on a journey of self-discovery while trying to find her mother, who has disappears on her 16th birthday. Her unusual education has made her self-reliant but not much of a lady, something that troubles her eldest brother Mycroft and amuses Sherlock.

Cavill said the brother-sister bond in "Enola Holmes", a screen adaptation of Nancy Springer's book series of the same name, gives the teenager a confidence to be the woman she wants to become.

"Sherlock is this eccentric character who exists in mainstream society and he then turns around to Enola and says things like 'I see myself in you. Your life is so different because of how things are in the society but don't let anyone tell you who you will be. 'You will be what you want to be.' "Even though Enola doesn't need to be given that power, for a young person to have that moment of support, someone saying 'Yes, go for it', is the key," the actor said about his critically-praised turn in the movie.

The 37-year-old actor said it would have been impossible to convincingly portray his role in Enola's journey of self-discovery without touching upon the tender side of Sherlock. Prior to Cavill, his industry colleagues Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr have played the fictional detective on television and on the big screen, respectively. The actor, however, said the team didn't delve too much on the portrayal of Sherlock as it was not his story.

"Sherlock exists because of Enola, as it is her story. We focused within that room. Enola is very much a young Sherlock and it was beautiful to see that relationship. The different take on the character happens really naturally because of emotional connection. It really spoke for itself. And Harry crafted it masterfully with me," he added.

Cavill has smoothly transitioned from playing the DC superhero Superman to monster hunter Geralt in the Netflix fantasy series "The Witcher" and now Sherlock Holmes, something that the actor said is not difficult as long as he gets to add a side of his own personality to these fan-favourite characters.

"Switching between these characters comes very naturally to me. Just because these characters may be iconic, it doesn't mean they are the same in any shape or form. For me it is always about delving into different part of my personality and applying it to these characters," he said.

When it comes to being compared to his predecessors, Cavill said he is quite an "old hand" in handling pressure of playing these big characters. "Benedict Cumberbatch and I are two totally different people and so are me and Robert Downey Jr and all the other actors who have played Sherlock Holmes. For me, it is not about doing something deliberately to be different. For me it's about giving myself to the character, as much as the character allows. And that makes a major difference," he added.

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