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Mark Gatiss: I had a free rein to fall over

British actor-comedian Mark Gatiss talks about playing a clumsy baddie and being cavalier with a fiction legend.

hollywood Updated: Aug 13, 2018 12:25 IST
Samarth Goyal
Samarth Goyal
Hindustan Times
Hollywood,Mark Gatiss,Steven Moffat
Actor-director Mark Gatiss says that the fifth season of Sherlock will take time to air on television. (Photo: Eivind Hansen)

The last time we spoke to British actor-comedian Mark Gatiss about his most famous creation so far — the runaway hit show Sherlock — he came across as someone who doesn’t mince his words, and doesn’t care about popular opinion. During this second interview, Gatiss, besides being forthright, is chirpy and even jokes that he expects an action figure for his role of Giles Winslow Jr in the film Christopher Robin, which is out today. In a candid chat, he talks about the show, his new film, and more.

What made you say a yes to the role of Giles Winslow?
Marc Forster, the director, Skyped me when I was in Cardiff (UK) filming Sherlock and he described the part and the film and asked if I’d like to be in it, so I said yes! I’m a fan of his work and it’s very excited to be offered a Disney film. Yes, I read the stories (by A.A. Milne) when I was a child and I’ve always liked the Disney cartoons. It seems strange to have Pooh with an American voice (in the film) and rather counter-intuitive, as it’s such a British thing, but there’s something incredibly charming about it.

Read| Sherlock writers Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat reuniting for new show on Dracula

How are you playing Giles?
I’m sort of the baddie, even though he’s a very ineffectual and stupid baddie, but I suppose it makes me a Disney villain, so I’m hoping I might get an action figure. In terms of the role, I read the scripts and Marc and I worked out all sorts of stuff for it — Giles is very clumsy and he thinks he’s the boss but he’s the idiot. So Marc gave me fantastic free rein to mess about and fall over — which I do a lot!

It’s a popular belief that books are always better than the films/shows made on them. What do you feel, as a writer and a director who has adapted from books?

It depends entirely on the approach — people often say short stories make the best films because there’s enough material to expand upon and adapt and fool around with, whereas if you’re trying to adapt a massive, famous book it’s a) very hard to do in a short time frame and b) you’re obviously going to annoy the people that love it. But the book is not destroyed when an adaptation is made and if you don’t like it that much you can always go back and read it again. Shakespeare is amazingly impervious to all kinds of different adaptations and that goes for most things. But I don’t think there’s any point in adapting something that is slavishly like the book; otherwise you might as well just read the book!

So what was your approach when you decided to approach Sherlock?
We were trying to restore the spirit of the original stories but be every bit as cavalier as (writer) Conan Doyle was himself. So there’s a massive central heresy, which was to update it and to try and make all the beats of it authentic.

Read| Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss: I am not making a show to get reactions on the internet

Will there be a Sherlock season 5?
Never say never but we have no immediate plans. (Co-writer) Steven Moffat and I are making Dracula next, which will take at least two years, so it’s certainly not an immediate prospect. It’s also quite nice to have a break from things, do something else, and give people a chance to miss it.

Interact with the author on Twitter/@sammysamarth

First Published: Aug 13, 2018 12:25 IST