May 15th, 2015

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SHERLOCKED – Andrew Scott Q&A

My EQView feature this week was a report on Sherlocked, the Official Sherlock Convention, and my own personal highlight - a Q&A with Andrew Scott who plays Jim Moriarty,

My EQView feature on Sherlocked is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


Last month I attended Sherlocked – the Official Sherlock Convention. Sherlocked featured cast and creators from Sherlock and gave fans the chance to gather together and immerse themselves fully in the world of the show for a whole weekend.

Sherlocked featured talks, Q&As, photoshoots, autograph opportunities, screenings, set displays, costume displays, prop displays, exhibitions, parties and exclusive merchandise. All a fan could ever wish for.

Key cast members and creatives, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue, were in attendance, signing autographs, giving photo opportunities and leading talks.

I bought a bargain basement Weekend Pass allowing me access to Sherlocked all weekend, and treated myself to a photo shoot and a talk with my favourite Sherlock actor, Andrew Scott, who plays Jim Moriarty, Sherlock’s nemesis.

The Andrew Scott photo opportunity and the talk were the two highlights of my Sherlocked weekend. Andrew Scott’s talk was just fabulous and so this is my write-up of his talk and Q&A.

We learnt that Andrew had always wanted to play a villain but, when he was younger, he looked far too innocent and so was never considered for any villain roles.

He was asked if he was surprised to be cast as Moriarty, given Professor Moriarty is depicted as an elderly Professor in the Paget illustrations. Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, by contrast, is young. Andrew explained that he never watches other interpretations of Moriarty. He prefers to come to the material fresh, make the character his own, and deliver something new.

Andrew’s new interpretation of the character provoked extreme reactions in Sherlockians and Holmesians worldwide. People either loved or hated the new Moriarty. Andrew saw this as a good thing – he wanted his character to elicit strong reactions in people, whether positive or negative.

Andrew spoke about his interpretation stating that he saw Moriarty as a solitary character, someone who is highly intelligent but lonely and has no friends. Moriarty has no one to love, and no one loves him. Moriarty sees Sherlock as someone who is similar to himself, and he is envious of the strong friendship Sherlock has with John. This leads to Moriarty becoming obsessed with Sherlock because Sherlock has something that Moriarty will never have. Throughout the series, Moriarty’s isolation is contrasted with the strong bromance between Sherlock and John.

Andrew was asked whether he had a particular backstory in mind for Moriarty. He responded that the character was scarier without a definitive backstory. The less the audience knew of Moriarty’s past, the more terrifying he became.

Andrew explained that, whilst Moriarty is a villain, everyone has light and dark within them. He spoke about accentuating the darkness within himself, but how he was also keen to have fun with the role and fully embrace the playfulness of the character.

Andrew spoke about how Moriarty is used so sparingly throughout all three series. For example, in Series 1, Moriarty only appears in the final 10 minutes of the last episode. Andrew felt the minimal use of Moriarty maximized the impact of the character when he did appear.

Andrew talked about how some of the most famous moments were created, for example his line “I will burn the heart out of you” in the swimming pool scene. There were multiple takes for each scene and Andrew would play the line a different way each time, going wherever his inspiration took him. Sometimes his attempts would be cringeworthy but, at other times, there would be a flash of genius and the scene would work perfectly.

Andrew’s favourite scene so far in Sherlock has been the sequence where he breaks into the Tower of London to steal the Crown jewels for fun. He enjoyed filming the whole scene but especially the dancing!

He was asked which character in Sherlock he would most like to play. He surprised me with his answer … Mrs Hudson! Andrew spoke about how amazing Una Stubbs was in the role and how, although she had very few lines and minimal screen time, Una could work her magic in a scene and, with a very light touch, make it truly memorable.

A member of the audience asked whether he preferred working on stage or on screen. He explained he was very passionate about theatre because it enabled actors to connect directly with the audience there and then, something film and TV does not allow.

The work Andrew was most passionate about was that early on in his career, where he was playing in small-scale fringe venues to relatively small audiences. The ensemble companies were small but they all wanted to tell a story and, because they knew each other very well, they were able to express themselves and find a voice within that close knit and supportive environment. Acting was about believing in the work and finding a way to express yourself, not about chasing fame and fortune.

Andrew was asked which of his many films he was most passionate about and he chose Pride. Pride was his favourite script, he was committed to telling that story, and very proud to be involved with the film. Filming Pride taught him the valuable life lesson that all human beings are essentially the same and share a common humanity. Things turn out better when you focus on what binds people together, rather than highlighting their difference.

Andrew’s Q&A was an absolute joy. I learnt about the character of Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, how he was created and developed and how he is played, and about Andrew’s passion for the theatre and what motivates him in his work. My only regret was that the Q&A was not longer!

Sherlocked, the Official Sherlock Convention, took place from Friday 24 April to Sunday 26 April at the ExCel Convention Centre in London, and was organized by Massive Events, in association with Hartswood Films and Showmasters Ltd.