Downey to play Sherlock Holmes as studio eyes series

Wed Oct 1, 2008 1:54pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Robert Downey Jr. is to play Victorian super sleuth Sherlock Holmes in an upcoming blockbuster that studio Warner Bros. hopes will become a lucrative new franchise.

The 43-year-old said one reason he was chosen for the role may have been his involvement in action movie "Iron Man," which earned over $570 million in global ticket sales this year, and he promised his Holmes would be the best screen portrayal ever.

"In case you aren't aware I had a hell of a summer, and it's made me much more viable to play a lead role than I might have (been) in the past," Downey Jr. told reporters in London, where shooting on "Sherlock Holmes" is about to begin.

When asked what he could bring to a character portrayed countless times on film and television, he joked: "Clearly I'm going to do it better than it's ever been done.

"The more I read about it the more overwhelmed I was by the weight of it and the amount of people who will be watching to see if it's gotten right."

Director Guy Ritchie said "Sherlock Holmes" was his biggest movie "by a long shot" in terms of budget.

Producer Joel Silver would not name the figure, but he called the budget "healthy" and said plans had not been affected by recent turmoil on the financial markets.

"What we've done is hopefully launched a franchise of Sherlock Holmes stories," he said.   Continued...

<p>British director Guy Ritchie (L) and U.S. actor Robert Downey Jr. attend a photocall for his film "Sherlock Holmes" in central London October 1, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>