The Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows junket included a massive press conference that featured so much talent from the sequel to Guy Ritchie‘s 2009 film that they needed to be arranged in stadium seating, including stars Robert Downey Jr., Noomi Rapace, and Jared Harris, director Ritchie, producers Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, and Susan Downey, screenwriters Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, and composer Hans Zimmer. Jude Law couldn’t make it because, as RDJ put it, “his son had a soccer game.” For forty-five minutes, the group fielded questions from the Los Angeles press (let’s be honest, Downey fielded questions from the press, frequently begging for someone to toss a query at one of the nine other people sitting around and behind him), and all the microphone-grabbing and cracks at banter did yield some interesting tidbits. Mainly, a story about Hans Zimmer essentially kidnapping thirteen gypsies, but that’s for later.

After the break, break out your steampunk-inspired magnifying glasses and try to follow along, Watson, as we investigate the case of the eleven things we learned at the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows press conference.

1. Noomi Rapace fit right in – does Sherlock Holmes sound like an all-dude club? It is. But Rapace, in her first English-language role, said she was “surprised the way they just kind of opened their family” for her, allowing her to “become one of the boys.”

2. Hans Zimmer went to Slovakia to study gypsy music – no, really. Zimmer traveled to Slovakia to meet with some of the Roma (the proper name for the gypsy people) to get a handle on that style of music that runs through the film, thanks to Rapace’s character, gypsy fortune-teller Madam Simza. Zimmer eventually took back thirteen Roma musicians to play on the film’s soundtrack. Most of them didn’t speak English. It sounds a bit like a horror film, but much more fun, because damn if Zimmer isn’t a charming man.

3. Guy Ritchie and Hans Zimmer share musical tastes – confirmed by Ritchie, who confirms that it’s the sort of thing that comes up when the two get potted together.

4. Noomi Rapace’s favorite scenes to film are fight scenes – the star of the Swedish-language The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo says that she “always enjoy[s]” getting down to the physical, and finds it much easier to accomplish that stuff, more than the emotional situations.

5. Moriarty is, unquestionably, one bad dude – to give Holmes a viable nemesis, Jared Harris had to play a “formidable” character who had, as Michele Mulroney put it, “no moral compass.”

6. Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie are incredibly close, perhaps too close – Harris explained that, when he first saw RDJ and Ritchie interacting on-set, they were playing a game of chicken, one that involved the two of them pretending to kick each other in the nuts. Whoever flinched first, lost. But as violent as that might sound, when Downey was asked who he has the most bromantic Holmes/Watson relationship with in real life, he first named Law, then said that he and Ritchie are “practically brothers.” You guys! Awww!

7. The Mulroneys wanted “a little darker and a little bigger” – well, yeah, obviously.

8. They shot the end first and the script was written backwards – Kieran Mulroney said that, in order to get a classic mystery together that had complicated pieces that all fit, they had to work backwards, writing a story whose end they knew. 

9. The German aria that Jared Harris busts out into during the film? Yeah, he learned that overnight – Harris, a classically trained stage actor, was hungry for firm direction and lines during a shoot that relied on equal parts improvisation and “philosophical discussion.” When he finally got wind of the German aria Moriarty sings in the film, Harris learned the aria overnight. It’s no wonder that it was RDJ who recounted this story, one that he told with something approaching reverence.

10. Robert Downey Jr. has yet to watch the BBC Sherlock series – but, hey, he’s heard good things!

11. The inevitable sequel might take place in America – again: well, yeah, obviously.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opens this Friday.


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