With many of the attendees at the Berlin #Film Festival (or 'Berlinale 2015') no doubt eagerly anticipating Wednesday's premiere of the daring Fifty Shades of Grey, there was a less fan-fared production aired at the weekend, starring a well-known actor to movie audiences of late. The multi-talented Ian McKellen starred in Mr Holmes, a portrayal of Conan Doyle's creation Sherlock Holmes as a 93-year-old, bereaved of his sidekick Watson.
McKellen is a familiar face to television and film viewers down through the ages, boasting a wide variety of successful ventures during his lengthy acting career. Indeed many will have seen him so wonderfully adapt the character of 'Gandalf' (whether 'white' or 'grey' is up to the reader) in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the more recent The Hobbit series of films. He also starred in another blockbusting film franchise, as 'Magneto' in the X-Men films. In total, he estimates that he has played around 250 roles, both on stage and film during his career to date.
Those larger-than-life roles are perhaps no more daunting, than attempting to cast your own interpretation on a character that many others have so successfully depicted on the silver screen, one Sherlock Holmes. Whether it be Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett or even the all-action version Robert Downey Jr created, Holmes has been a role that actors have adopted a certain zest to trying their hand at. No less McKellen, who describes the character as a "great Englishman", as compared to Gandalf being an "Oxford professor" in his eyes, although he likes to think of both imaginary characters as being essentially 'British' it seems.
In Mr Holmes, the lead character is cast as having been long-retired from his major sleuthing days, with his trusted companion Watson already passed away. He has moved on to a remote British farm, many miles removed from the famous Baker Street address he is commonly associated with, to reflect on his life and to tend to his bees. Dedicated to his art, McKellen attended a bee training course to prepare for the part, but as a result is proud to say that he was able to mix the beekeeping with his acting in the film, without being stung, even when he wore no gloves.
Besides his bees, the retired Holmes has also turned to writing about his past cases, in much the same way as Watson used to do for him. Unfortunately, his memory is failing him and much of the film endeavours to deal with that 'weakness' in the ageing Holmes, with McKellen portraying the emotions involved as sensitively as one would expect from such an esteemed thespian. #Celebrities #CinemaTrue to his warmth and humour, during interviews while in Berlin for the premiere, he even added the slightly tongue in cheek comment that: "No bee was harmed in the making of this movie."