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Cult Interview

'Elementary' stars Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu talk season 1, the future

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Elementary has moved past early comparisons to another certain Sherlock Holmes series to become a bona fide hit for CBS, who were proud enough of the detective drama to hand it the plum post-Super Bowl slot earlier this month.

Series stars Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu - the show's Sherlock and Watson - recently spoke to journalists about their experiences so far filming season one of Elementary and their hopes for the show's future...

USTV series 'Elementary' debut (27/09/2012) starring Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson

© CBS / David M. Russell



What is your take on Holmes and Watson after twelve episodes on the air compared to the beginning of the season?
Jonny Lee Miller: "My take on him... Wow! My take... I don't know. It's very difficult for me to explain about the whole character to you. I am very pleased with the development. I am very pleased with the elements that we get to see - that I get to portray struggles.

"I always think that's a wonderful part of our show... exploring the struggles that these characters face, rather than just constantly dealing with crime solving. It's really good ammunition for an actor. I really like the way that that has developed, and I am looking forward to more of that."

Lucy Liu: "I agree with what Jonny just said. For Watson especially, I think that the viewers have been incredibly patient because we are sort of finding our way around a character that was essentially in the literature itself, but one that narrated and was observant and witnessed. So how do you take that and then suddenly make it active and current in this time, in a place that is also a sober companion without making her someone that is somewhat of annoyance?

"So it's nice that the dynamic between them can also be quite lighthearted but also very firm - [she's] sort of the heart of allowing him to be okay with having feelings or touching or triggering things that might upset him, which then allows for there to be dramatic tension between us."

Jonny, have you found yourself taking on any of Sherlock's traits in your real life?
Jonny: "It's funny because having to do a lot of memorizing and a lot of thinking and using your brain on a daily basis quite a lot, it does have an effect. I remember more stuff. I am doing memory exercises on a daily basis, just memorizing pages and pages of dialogue, and that does kind of keep you more alert.

"If you exercise your brain, it kind of works better. Mind you, my wife will probably tell you different!"

'Elementary' S01E07: 'One Way To Get Off'

© CBS



Were you Sherlock Holmes readers before getting involved with the series?
Lucy: "I had not read it when I was a child and I had the more stereotypical idea, as I am sure everyone did, of the hat and magnifying glass. So I have been familiarizing myself with it more after I agreed to do the pilot, and it has been fascinating."

Jonny: "I hadn't read the books beforehand and I have now - I have immersed myself in those books and there is so much information there. They have such wonderful characters, and like Lucy said, I was astounded.

"It's a wonderful discovery, and we are reading them now and it is a great thing. Actually I have to recommend them - those books are amazing, if you haven't read them."

Lucy: "They are surprisingly current and modern, and they are really funny and humorous. There is a reason why people keep having so many iterations of Holmes, because it's fascinating and there are so many avenues that you can discover, just in one story on its own."

Jonny: "And the friendship and character is very vivid. Not only does Conan Doyle write a mystery very well, he writes character very well."

Elementary S01E05: 'Lesser Evils'

© CBS



How does Elementary differentiate itself from other adaptations without losing the essence of Sherlock Holmes?
Lucy: "In the beginning when I sat down and had a meeting with [series creator] Rob Doherty, I said to him, 'Are you sure you want to use Sherlock Holmes and Watson? You can change the names to anything. Anything! You could make it, like, two different names that people won't recognise and you won't feel as much pressure! Why not?'

"But he was so certain and so determined to stay the course, and he really believed that this was the way to go and he wasn't afraid of what people were going to say, and he felt very secure with the decision and the direction that he was going with the characters. He has been true the whole time, and it has been an incredible emotional effort to maintain the criticism and the judgment - even before the pilot had aired - so I have to say, I have high respect for him."

Jonny, as a Brit, did you ever have any reservations about Elementary being set in New York?
Jonny: "I had many reservations initially about the whole show honestly, but New York just seemed quite perfect for me, I have to say - I mean, there is nowhere more London than London, but in my previous experience of New York City... it's perfect, in my opinion, so I was very excited by that."

Elementary S01E05: 'Lesser Evils'

© CBS



How do you both think Elementary will progress in a second season?
Lucy: "I am anticipating that as the series goes on... it will be more serialized. I mean, there will still be a procedural aspect, but it will be something that the fans who do tune in every week will be able to kind of see the unravelling as opposed to sort of the same old personalities, the same old stories coming out.

"I think the growth of the characters is why people will tune in ultimately as well. That's what I believe will happen."

Jonny: "You just kind of hope that the network and studio will [continue to] have the same trust in your show that they have shown. They then allow you to expand and do the things that... you want to do.

"But first you've got to establish the show and you've got to do various things and they have shown great faith in us. As long as that continues and we get make the show that we want to make, that's all we can ask."

Elementary continues on Thursdays at 10/9c on CBS. In the UK, the series returns to Sky Living on Tuesday, February 26 at 9pm.

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