Arts & Culture

Getting back to the source of the Holmes persona

If you ask screenwriter Tony Peckham, Sherlock Holmes gets a bum rap.

"The most common misconception is that he's a stuffy, pipe-smoking guy in a cape who wanders around like a university professor, sucking clues out of thin air," Peckham explained.

In fact, the screenwriter added, the literary character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is actually "very physical."

Peckham, who lives in Morro Bay, was part of the writing team that worked on "Sherlock Holmes." The film, helmed by "RocknRolla" director Guy Ritchie, stars Robert Downey Jr. as a hipper, hotter version of the Great Detective.

"We're writing Sherlock Holmes as Conan Doyle wrote him--an obsessive-compulsive, addictive, bipolar guy who's absolutely brilliant," Peckham explained. "If he lived today, he'd be on medication and never have solved any crimes."

In addition to portraying Holmes as a bohemian outsider, Peckham and fellow screenwriters Michael Robert Johnson and Simon Kinberg showcased the detective's physical side -- punctuating the 128-minute film with explosions, sword fights and fisticuffs.

Of course, no Sherlock Holmes film would be complete without his loyal assistant, Dr. James Watson. In this version, he's played by British heartthrob Jude Law.

"Watson was a ladies' man, a decorated veteran of the Afghan wars, not a bumbler as he's (often) portrayed," Peckham said. "Trust me, Watson's very sexy."

The same could be said for love interest Irene Adler, played by Rachel McAdams.

"We surmised that Holmes would never fall for a quote-unquote 'normal woman,'" Peckham explained, "so anyone who had bested him...would have to be something quite extraordinary."

Peckham hopes that moviegoers will embrace Ritchie's action-packed, modern-minded blockbuster.

"If we get slammed by people who loved Sherlock Holmes, I think it will be unfair," he said. "We really went back to the source."

-- Sarah Linn