In 1886, the British writer Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) created an art figure that is still considered a literary icon: master detective Sherlock Holmes. Together with Dr. For decades he has been solving the most puzzling cases in films and series for Watson and has thrilled millions of audiences. Over 75 actors have already slipped into the role of analytical genius. On the 90th anniversary of Arthur Conan Doyle's death on July 7, we can look back on the most popular Sherlock Holmes actors.
The first Sherlock Holmes
The first actor to portray Sherlock Holmes on television was the American actor Louis Hector (1883-1968). In 1937 he slipped into the role of a master detective in a NBC production. The black and white broadcast was only 30 minutes long, but his appearance as the first Sherlock Holmes made Hector an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
The two cult actors
The British Jeremy Brett (1933-1995) is considered one of the most famous Holmes actors of all time. From 1984 to 1994, the actor was seen as a knowledgeable investigator in a total of six seasons and five TV films. There might have been more appearances if Brett hadn't died of heart failure in 1995.
For many Basil Rathbone (1892-1967) is the only true Sherlock Holmes in the film genre. Together with Nigel Bruce (1895-1953) as Dr. From 1939 to 1946, he stood in front of the camera for 14 crime novels in Watson. He is still one of the most popular performers of the master detective to this day. Because of him, Holmes is still associated with a deerstalker hat and an Inverness coat.
Wilmer and Cushing conquer the television program
The British Douglas Wilmer (1920-2016) already put on his hunting hat in 1964 and was seen in 13 stories as a master detective on television in the first season of the BBC series "Sherlock Holmes". In 2012 he returned to the detective universe once again: he had a guest role in an episode of the BBC series "Sherlock" with Benedict Cumberbatch (43) in the title role.
In the second season of the series, Douglas Wilmer was replaced by his British colleague Peter Cushing (1913-1994), who changed his coat for 16 episodes in 1968. But it wasn't the first time for Cushing. As early as 1959 he was seen as a master detective in the horror film "Der Hund von Baskerville".
Plummer and Liwanow: emotions and an award
Canadian character actor Christopher Plummer (90, "Beginners") played the famous detective from Baker Street in the 1970s. In the two films "Silver Blaze" (1977) and "Sherlock Holmes – Murder on the Thames" (1978), he put his own stamp on the cult figure. Plummer is considered the most emotional Holmes.
In the former Soviet Union, however, Wassili Liwanow (84) was seen as a master detective at the end of the 1970s. In 2006 he was awarded the "Order of the British Empire" by Queen Elizabeth II (94) for her authentic portrayal.
Sherlock Holmes goes comedy
Sherlock Holmes can not only be serious, but also comedic. In the film "Genie und Schnauze" (1988) Sir Michael Caine (87) skillfully parodies the cult literary figure. Also in "Sherlock Holmes or the strange case of the end of civilization as we know it" (1977) with comedian legend John Cleese (80) in the leading role, Holmes is properly targeted.
The Hollywood greats of the Sherlock universe
Even a former "James Bond" actor was already seen as a resourceful investigator. Roger Moore (1927-2017) played the title role in "Sherlock Holmes in New York" from 1976. Another Hollywood star in the Holmes universe: Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015). He began the investigation in the film "Sherlock Holmes and the Necklace of Death" (1962) and in two TV productions.
Sherlock Holmes has made a name for himself in many different ways over the years. In "Mr. Holmes" (2015) Sir Ian McKellen (81) portrays the title character. Holmes is now 93 years old and suffers from dementia. In 2018 Will Ferrell (52) tried the comedy "Holmes & Watson" – but that didn't go down well with the audience. And Johnny Depp (57, "Pirates of the Caribbean") was not seen as Sherlock Holmes, but was heard. In the animated film "Sherlock Gnomes" in 2018, he lent his voice to the world-famous investigator in the original English version.
Robert Downey Jr. brings Holmes back to life
Director Guy Ritchie (51) focused on more action in his film "Sherlock Holmes" (2009) – and that was well received. Robert Downey Jr. (55) as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law (47) as Dr. Watson were also an absolute stroke of luck. The master detective is much more vulgar and humorous than previous versions. Robert Downey Jr. received a Golden Globe Award in 2010 for his performance. The sequel followed in 2011 with "Sherlock Holmes: Game in the Shadow". A third part is planned – but without director Guy Ritchie. The film is expected to hit theaters in December 2021.
Benedict Cumberbatch brings the detective into the 21st century
In the 21st century, the award-winning BBC series "Sherlock" with Benedict Cumberbatch is anchored in the title role. Together with Martin Freeman (48, "The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey") as Dr. He has been investigating John Hamish Watson in what is now London since 2010. The series was a huge success. Both the critics and the audience celebrated Cumberbatch as a master detective and also the series. So far there are four seasons, a spa episode and a special episode. It is still unclear whether there will ever be a fifth season or more specials.
New project with Henry Cavill
"Superman" Henry Cavill (37) slips into the trench coat in the film version of the "Enola Holmes" youth book series. The actor announced this in June 2019 via Instagram. Enola Holmes, the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, is played by "Stranger Things" star Millie Bobby Brown (16). Netflix secured the film rights. But there is obviously a problem: As reported by CNN, Arthur Conan Doyle's estate administrators filed a lawsuit against the streaming service. The project allegedly violates copyright law. When or whether the film will appear on Netflix is therefore unclear.