Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu
One of Elementary's stars is misbehaving. No, it's not Jonny Lee Miller, aka Sherlock Holmes, who is currently upside down on the hit drama's Queens set, doing handstand push-ups to get the blood rushing to his brain so he can remember the huge chunk of expository dialogue he needs to spit out. And it's not Lucy Liu (sidekick Joan Watson), who is quietly sitting at a desk with a computer, an iPad, an iPod and a BlackBerry.
It's Clyde, Sherlock and Watson's pet turtle, who's having a diva moment. The creature has stopped moving, so it's quickly replaced by a second turtle — a "stunt Clyde," as Liu jokingly calls it. "You never really know what's going to set them off," Miller says of the turtles. "They can be surly. Just temperamental showbiz turtles, though. I wouldn't want to besmirch the species as a whole." Liu defends the animal. "Clyde has been very patient," she says. "He's been taken out of a safe environment and he's got hot lights shining on him."
When TV Guide Magazine put hot lights on Miller and Liu at a photo shoot in a Brooklyn loft several weeks later, they didn't shrink into their shells. Instead, they displayed the magnetism that made Elementary last season's highest-rated new show. "Jonny and Lucy are funny, wildly intelligent and talented people," says creator Robert Doherty. They agreed to answer burning questions submitted by fans on Facebook and Twitter.
TV Guide Magazine: What made you want to play Sherlock and Watson?
Miller: The quality of the script, because I was [against] doing it initially. [Sherlock's drug-addiction] recovery was a really great dramatic device and an interesting take on an element true to the original books. And a female Watson was extremely interesting.
Liu: I was initially very trepidatious as well, because of the history Watson and Sherlock have in entertainment. I said, "Can you change the names?" Then you don't have that type of pressure. I sat down with Rob [Doherty], and he convinced me without doing very much — just by being himself. He was open, intelligent, well-spoken and kind. I thought, "This is somebody I can really become a family with."
TV Guide Magazine: Is it daunting to take on such icons?
Miller: Absolutely. Especially because there are a few incarnations around currently. All those things can absolutely drive you away — and did. But you don't think of that. You think about your work: Is the script good? What can I do with it? Are the people making it competent? All of those things sent me screaming, "Yes!"
TV Guide Magazine: Do you compare yourself to other Sherlocks and Watsons?
Liu: I haven't looked at anything else. If I think back, of course I watched the movies, but it was before this show happened. I feel like it's so different, and now that we have one season behind us, it feels so irrelevant.
Miller: I really don't compare myself, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't consciously trying to do different things. I look at the novels — they're covered in Post-its for bits of stuff that haven't been seen yet.
TV Guide Magazine: The most common question we got from fans was about your relationship on the show. Will it ever turn romantic?
Miller: The writers are pretty adamant that shouldn't happen, and I have to agree. There are some things that must remain with Holmes and Watson. Also, you've got to leave room for that tension and possibility, which are so strong in people's minds. If you take that away, what are you left with?
Liu: It's like going to a nude beach: It's all there, there's nothing to see, it's done. But when you go to an actual beach and people have bikinis on, there's something more sexual. So this is a much more interesting dynamic than actually having intercourse and a postcoital scene. This is much more energized. There are some things that have to be sacred, and right now, where we are is where we need to be.
TV Guide Magazine: It seems as if some fans think they want it, but they don't really want it.
Liu: They want it and eat it, then they're not so happy they ate the whole bag of chips.
Miller: Or that they took their bikini off on the beach.
Liu: There's nothing left to the imagination.
Miller: Everything's unsupported!
Liu: [Laughs] I've seen you unsupported. It's not cute.
For more on Elementary, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, Oct. 10!
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