A SHERLOCK CAROL - DREW MCVETY INTERVIEW
We are happy that actor Drew McVety, who portrays Sherlock Holmes in the new play A Sherlock Carol gave an interview to our site.
Thank you very much for your time. We wish you lots of success in your career.
First of all, thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions, we truly appreciate it. Please tell us some details about the play A Sherlock Carol, where you portray the Great Detective.
Hello! Very honored to be talking to you today. A Sherlock Carol is a wonderful new addition to the Sherlock canon, that has all the heart of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and all the fun and intrigue of a Holmes mystery. The plot goes a little something like this: A grown up Tiny Tim approaches a dissolute Sherlock Holmes and asks him to investigate the mysterious death of his benefactor Ebenezer Scrooge.
It is three years after Moriarty’s death and Holmes is back in London, and a bit haunted by the death of Moriarty, to the point of losing his sense of purpose, and to an extent, even his identity. When he agrees to take the case of Scrooge’s death, he does so in order to answer deeper questions regarding one’s ability to change course in life.
Our brilliant writer and director Mark Shanahan has interwoven elements of Doyle’s only Christmas mystery, The Blue Carbuncle, into the plot. The subsequent satisfaction that comes with the play’s resolution of not only the theft of the Carbuncle, but the deeper mysteries of life and death itself make the play more than worthy of its extraordinary literary heritage and establishes it as a new holiday mystery classic in its own right. No small feat! (Clearly, I am a fan of the piece.)
Is it a challenge to play Holmes, knowing the vast amount of actors who portrayed him before?
It is certainly intimidating to take on the role when viewing the incredible lineage of extraordinary actors who have played Sherlock. The role is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the most portrayed character in dramatic history. And what actors they are! The very finest we have had to offer…. Basil Rathbone, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeremy Brett, Peter Cushing, Christopher Plummer, Ian McKellen, Robert Downey Jr, Ian Richardson…. And on and on back to Gillette. So, is that a challenge? YES!
However, I will say, as I watched each of their takes on the great detective, I noticed that there were no two alike and that because the character is so well conceived and has so many delicious facets, it is possible to attach one’s attention to the asset of his character that appeals most to you as an actor and letting that be your way in to creating a Sherlock Holmes that is all your own.
How did you prepare for the role?
Immersion! Immersion in the brilliant script itself, as deeply as possible. And then absorbing all the stories, in every form. In the original book forms, the comic books, the graphic novels, the pastiches, and of course, the films and television series. Throughout the pandemic I have created my own veritable 221b Baker Street in my apartment in New York City and the object of my study is the mysterious Mr. Holmes himself.
How can you put something new and unique into playing such a well-known and iconic character?
It’s a tricky question! For there are certain finites about Holmes that must be adhered to - where he lives, his fiddle, his smoking, his habits… but within the shadings of the circumstances of which story Holmes finds himself in, different aspects of his character always emerge and are always surprising! We love it when we find out new things about Holmes. If Holmes is in fact in love with Irene Adler for instance, we are delighted to observe something that might be “out of character.” Knowing this, one can bring something fresh and new to a portrayal of Holmes by accenting and augmenting something that already exists and allowing for human aspects to emerge that will endear the audience to the character more deeply.
What do you think, why is Sherlock still so interesting for the audience, especially for younger generations?
He is the original crime solving superhero! And since the Greeks invented the mythic superheroes that lived atop Olympus we have, as humans, been utterly fascinated. And it is a fascination that spans all ages, because it touches something in us deeply, perhaps our universal desire to be saved, to believe in beings stronger than ourselves, so that we evolve toward their example.
Do you consider yourself a Sherlock fan? When did you hear about him for the first time?
I remember encountering Basil Rathbone’s performances on my grandmother’s television on the 4:30 action movie in Detroit Michigan. And then I remember reading the stories from my brother’s collection. My brother David was the original fan in our family, and it was his love for all things mystery that caused me to be a Sherlock fan for life.
Do you have favourite Holmes stories, adaptations and actors?
I am very partial to the Brett performances of course, I love the Cumberbatch portrayal immensely, I found Downey Jr.’s portrayal wonderful and incredibly liberating, I wept over McKellen’s portrayal of the near senile Holmes, and I love Christopher Plummer’s ease with his greatness……
Which of your performances are you the most proud of?
I am most proud of performances in my Broadway career as an understudy. I was asked, more than once, to fill impossibly impressive shoes with very difficult performances and the execution of those nearly impossible feats filled me with confidence and pride. It is a hell of a job, the Broadway understudy.
Do you receive feedback from your audience (fan letters, messages on social media, etc.)?
I do and I LOVE it! I love connecting with as many people as possible and I am extremely excited about connecting with the deep and diverse Sherlock fandom. I hope they take my sincere effort to bring Mr. Holmes to life again as a welcome addition to the incredible legacy of the actors who have gone before me.
Dear visitors! The play A Sherlock Carol debuts on the 11th of November at New World Stages.
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Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes