Jeremy Brett was Sherlock Holmes. The Definitive Sherlock Holmes. Even now he is still remembered as being the Great Detective. Brett (1933 - 1995) was an English actor who appeared on both stage and screen. He worked with Laurence Olivier at the National Theatre and in a film production of The Merchant of Venice, he starred as Audrey Hepburn's brother in an adaptation of War and Peace, he starred as Audrey Hepburn's Love Interest in My Fair Lady, he played d'Artagnan in a television series of The Three Musketeers, he played Basil Hallward in a television series of The Picture of Dorian Gray, but it is for Sherlock Holmes that he will be remembered.
Between 1984 and 1994, Granada produced adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's famous stories with Brett in the title role. They were:
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: where he was joined by David Burke as a capable Dr Watson more in keeping with Doyle's depiction of him;
- The Return of Sherlock Holmes: Edward Hardwicke replaced Burke as Watson continuing the faithful portrayal of Holmes's sidekick. Included two feature length adaptations of the novels The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles;
- The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes;
- The Master Blackmailer: a feature-length adaptation of The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton;
- The Last Vampyre: a feature-length adaptation of The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire;
- The Eligible Bachelor: a feature-length adaptation of The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor (with bits of The Veiled Lodger thrown in);
- The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes: Brett's last series, which was marked by his drastically failing health;
Brett and Hardwicke continued their roles on the stage for The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, written by Granada script-writer Jeremy Paul. The play ran from '88 to '89 at the Wyndham Theatre.
Brett saw playing Sherlock Holmes as a challenge and was determined to produce the best portrayal of him that had been seen (his most prized possession was a 77-page book that he compiled himself documenting everything from Holmes's eating habits to the character's eccentric mannerisms). "Some actors fear if they play Sherlock Holmes for a very long run the character will steal their soul, leave no corner for the original inhabitant", he once said, but: "Holmes has become the dark side of the moon for me. He is moody and solitary and underneath I am really sociable and gregarious. It has all got too dangerous". David Burke originally played Dr Watson but left after the filming of The Final Problem in order to spend more time with his family. He was replaced, on Burke's own recommendation, with Edward Hardwicke who played him from The Empty House onward. In Brett's opinion, Hardwicke was the nicest man he ever knew.
Unfortunately Brett suffered from manic depression after the death of his wife not long after filming Sherlock Holmes's own faked death in The Final Problem. During production of the remaining series, Brett's health declined, and he even collapsed on set and had to be admitted to hospital. When he was finally discharged, he was picked up from the hospital by Edward Hardwicke who took him out to lunch.
Not long after filming The Cardboard Box, Jeremy Brett died at the age of sixty-one from heart failure. Edward Hardwicke spoke at his funeral where he called him his "dear friend" and said he was "greatly missed". The New York Times in their report of his death said that "Mr. Brett was regarded as the quintessential Holmes: breathtakingly analytical, given to outrageous disguises and the blackest moods and relentless in his enthusiasm for solving the most intricate crimes."
Even now, he's still Sherlock Holmes.
Tropes relating to Jeremy Brett:
- Adorkable: As Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady.
- Badass Baritone
- Hazel Eyes: His eyes could appear grey, green, amber, or brown at any given time, and remain an object of fangirling.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: He played several villains, mostly for television - including The Incredible Hulk.
- Non-Singing Voice: As Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady, which is an especially weird example considering that Brett could actually sing.
- Signature Laugh: He had a very distinct and infectious laugh. Seriously, listen to it. Edward Hardwicke said it was the thing he would most remember and miss about him.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome
- The Power of Friendship: Jeremy and Edward were best friends in real life, and it really showed in their performance.
- What Could Have Been: Was once considered for the part of James Bond.