Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Holmes for the Holiday.

Robert Downey Jr. plays the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. Revealing fighting skills as powerful as his famous intellect, Holmes employs his own unique methods to get to the heart of a case, traveling where no one else would think to go to find what others cannot see. Jude Law portrays Watson, Holmes’s longtime colleague, who is joining him in what may be their last case before the doctor starts a new life as a married man. Rachel McAdams is Irene Adler, a woman from America, who is as alluring as she is dangerous, and whose tempestuous relationship with the detective has become the one puzzle he cannot solve. Mark Strong plays Lord Blackwood, whose own intellect, combined with merciless ambition, makes him a formidable adversary.


Rachel as: Irene Adler
Other cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Jude Law (Dr. John Watson), Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood), Eddie Marsan (Inspector Lestrade), Kelly Reilly (Mary Morstan)
Alternative Title: None
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by: Michael Robert Johnson (Screenplay), Anthony Peckham (Screenplay), Simon Kinberg (Screenplay), Lionel Wigram (Screen Story), Michael Robert Johnson (Screen Story), Arthur Conan Doyle (Characters)
Production Status: Available on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital HD
World Premiere: December 14, 2009 in London, United Kingdom
Theatrical Release: December 25, 2009 (US) | December 26, 2009 (UK)
Genre: Action/Adventure/Crime
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material
Distributor: Warner Bros
Run time: 128 min
Production budget: $90.000.000 (Estimated)
Box office: $209,028,679 (US) | $524,028,679 (Worldwide)
Producers: Susan Downey, Dan Lin, Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Bruce Berman, Michael Tadross, Dana Goldberg
Original Music by: Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by: Philippe Rousselot

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Production Notes

To play Holmes’s great love and Achilles’ heel, the filmmakers cast Rachel McAdams. “Rachel struck me as the ideal Irene,” says Ritchie. “She portrays her with this fantastic benign façade under which is the serpent of the most nefarious nature. She’s not to be trusted at all. Even when she’s got a blade to your throat, she smiles. Her sweetness is a front she uses to be as efficient in a man’s world as she is.”

“Irene is a bit of a mystery, so it was fun getting to unveil her layers,” offers McAdams. “The relationship between Irene and Holmes is so volatile and unorthodox; they walk a fine line between loving each other and distrusting each other. She’s had many lives and she lives in the moment. Really, she’s a woman living like a man, which was very uncommon for the period, so I had to balance the elegance of her femininity with her reckless, dangerous nature.”

This sensibility appealed to Rachel McAdams, who had extensive stunt work in the Tower Bridge sequence. “Guy liked to keep things messy and keep the truth within this fantastical world,” she notes. “There’s always the temptation to get too refined when dealing with this period, but Guy made sure it was also rough and tumble and modernized. Doing this movie with Guy taught me to be really quick on my feet and precise, yet always open and flexible.”

“The costumes were phenomenal,” McAdams declares. “It was great just to take in all the details, which give you answers to some of your own questions about your character. I could see what kind of jewelry Irene wore and the perfume she wears. And the clothes themselves were all so beautiful. The details and the time and painstaking energy people put into them were remarkable.”

Continue to read production notes

Production Process

Late September 2008 it was reported that Rachel joined the cast of “Sherlock Holmes” and the news was confirmed early October 2008 when the cast appeared during a press conference. The movie was filmed in London and New York. The filming started around December 2008 in London and wrapped around February 2009. A part of the cast returned for a re-shoot including Rachel August 2009.

Trivia & Facts

  • Rachel McAdams did most of her own stunts, just like Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.
  • Attempting to escape the clutches of wearing a tight corset every morning, Rachel would trick the costumers by pushing her stomach out or eating a big breakfast of oatmeal before being laced up. However, they eventually caught on to her ruse.
  • Quotes from Rachel

    “She’s a really fun character because she’s quite different from a lot of women, at that time. She’s really her own boss. She’s a real free spirit. She’s a woman of the night and of the underworld, so she’s very acrobatic and she’s traveled, all over the world. So, there’s lots to play with there.”
    On her character Irene Adler (SDCC Interview)

    We [Irene Adler and Sherlock Holmes] are very competitive with one another, we’re trying to outsmart each other all the time, and yet trying to have this odd, normal relationship, which is nearly impossible. It was fun.
    On the relationship between Irene Adler & Sherlock Holmes (Examiner)

    “I didn’t realize how big it really was until I stepped on the sets and they were just massive. And it’s in true Guy Ritchie fashion too, it’s lots of fighting and explosions.”
    On the movie set (Collider)

    “I hunted Guy down and camped on his doorstep until he relented! OK, no, we had a chat in a garden and it went from there… Fortunately, it worked out for me.”
    On wanting the role (Total Film UK)

    “I combed the 10 pages I was in, over and over. I read it backwards and upside down. [Irene Adler] was in one story, so I relied heavily on that, and I just played around with it from there. I had her in the circus, I had an adoptive brother that died, I’m fighting for his revenge. You fill all these little things in your head, so it’s all urgent and dire. But I spent a lot of time with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Irene.”
    On preparing to play Irene Adler (Examiner)

    Quotes from Cast & Crew

    “Rachel struck me as the ideal Irene. She portrays her with this fantastic benign facade under which is the serpent of the most nefarious nature. She’s not to be trusted at all. Even when she’s got a blade to your throat, she smiles. Her sweetness is a front she uses to be as efficient in a man’s world as she is.”
    Guy Ricie,director (Official Press Kit)

    “She cares about the craft, not the parties or the fancy clothes.”
    Joe Silver, producer (Vogue)

    Critical Reception

    “Ms. McAdams, in any case, is a perfectly charming actress and performs gamely as the third wheel of this action-bromance tricycle. She offers a little something for the ladies — who, according to airtight Hollywood corporate logic, are more likely to see a movie like this one if there’s a feisty woman in it — and also something for the lads, who, much as they may dig fights and explosions and guns and chases, also like girls.”
    A.O. Scott (New York Times)

    The movie currently holds a 70% rating at Rotten Tomatoes (Certified Fresh) and 57 score at Meta Critics

    Awards & Nominations

    ☆ 2010 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films as Best Supporting Actress
    ☆ 2010 Teen Choice Awards as Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure

    ★ = win ☆ = nomination | View entire list at IMDB

    Promotional Tour

    October 1st 2008 Pre-Production Press Conference Images Videos
    Juy 24th 2009 Comic-Con Arrivals | Panel Videos
    December 1st 2009 Los Angeles Press Conference Images Videos
    December 11th 2009 London Press Junket Outside Videos
    December 14th 2009 London Premiere Images Videos
    December 15th 2009 Good Morning America Images Videos
    December 16th 2009 New York Press Junket Videos
    December 17th 2009 The Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel Images Videos
    December 17th 2009 New York Premiere Arrivals | After Party Videos
    January 12th 2010 Berlin Press Conference Images Videos
    January 12th 2010 Berlin Premiere Images Videos
    January 14th 2010 Madrid Press Conference Videos
    January 14th 2010 Madrid Premiere Arrivals | After Party Videos
    January 15th 2010 Le Grand Journal Images Videos
    January 15th 2010 Paris Photocall Arrivals | Q&A Videos

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