MR. HOLMES is not the first time Jeffrey Hatcher has adapted a work from one medium to another. In this case it was Mitch Cullen’s novel about Sherlock Holmes’ later years, A Slight Trick of the Mind, and we had a lively discussion on April 25, 2015, about the art of what to leave out, and what to trust to an actor’s instincts. Hatcher mused about why Holmes seems so ideally suited to every era, from Basil Rathbone’s World War II to Benedict Cumberbatch’s contemporary London, to Ian McKellen’s turn as the detective at the end of his life in post-World War II Sussex.
He also did a terrific impression of Ian McKellen as Holmes, in which he demonstrated the effortless way that actor can do lengthy dialogue trippingly from the tongue, as it were, before quoting Dorothy Parker.
We finished up by talking about something non-Holmesian, but that I was keen to know more about: his adaptation of John Kennedy O’Toole’s sprawling epic, A Confederacy of Dunces, during which Hatcher revealed that magical moment of revelation when he realized he has found his protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly, in Nick Offerman, about whose mustache he then waxed rhapsodical.
MR. HOLMES is a story of life, death, and hope as a side effect. Ian McKellen stars as Sherlock Holmes facing the end of his life in 1947. He has retired, as he had always planned to do, to a life of beekeeping in Sussex. What he hadn’t planned on was that his brilliant mind would betray him with senility, a condition made doubly tragic because he is perfectly aware of what is happening to him. As the inevitability of his situation becomes clear, he is haunted by his final case, the one that spurred him to retirement, while at the same time he develops an avuncular relationship with the precocious son of his starchy housekeeper, a fatherless boy who dreams of becoming something more than his class affords. The film co-stars Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Roger Hallam, Frances de la Tour, Hattie Morahan, and Patrick Kennedy. It was directed by Bill Condon from a script adapted from Mitch Cullen’s novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind. Hatcher’s previous work includes THE DUCHESS, STAGE BEAUTY, and CASSANOVA. He is a member of The Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.