PBS’ ‘Sherlock’ Says Jonny Lee Miller Took ‘Elementary’ Role for the ‘Paycheck’

Sherlock (PBS)

Two actors. Two friends. Two Sherlock Holmes.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock Holmes on PBS, said in a recent interview the he wished his friend Jonny Lee Miller-who plays a modern version of the character on the upcoming “Elementary” on CBS-decided not to play the famed character.

Cumberbatch starred with Miller last year in a production of Frankenstein. He told Shortlist.com that he and Miller talked about the role and while he preferred that Miller not take the job, but felt that there was room for both versions of the character.

“Jonny [Lee Miller] asked me if I was all right with him doing it,” he said in the interview. “I said, ‘What are the similarities?’ And he went, ‘Well it’s modern…’ I went, ‘Oh.’ Then he said, ‘Lucy Liu’s going to play Joan Watson…’ And I went, ‘Oh.’ I got hold of the pilot script just to check it out. I don’t know, we’ll see. I think there’s room for us both to coexist.”

He went on to say that he understood Miller’s decision to ultimately take the role in order to “feed” his family.

“I did say, ‘Well, I’d prefer you didn’t do it but you’ve got a kid to feed, a nice house in LA and a wife to keep in good clothes.’ When you get used to a certain standard of living and they waft a pay cheque at you, what are you going to do? I think Jonny was like, ‘Mate, I’ve got the f*cking mountain to climb here [to reach the acclaim of ‘Sherlock’], you’ve got nothing to fear.’ I wish him the best of luck, but I’m a bit cynical about why they’ve chosen to do it and why they cast him.”

As for Miller, he told critics earlier this year that Cumberbatch had been supportive of his decision.

“I would call him up like a groupie after every episode came out and want to talk to him about it,” Miller said. “And we had a discussion about this project as well. Benedict has been very, very supportive, and, you know, I wanted to reassure him about how different this script and project were.”

The CBS version of the show will see a modern version of Holmes living in the US following issues with alcohol. After leaving rehab, Holmes opts to begin a new life in Brooklyn with his sober companion Dr. Watson, played by Liu. The series will premiere on Sept. 27 on CBS.

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