2011 saw Martin Freeman zipping back and forth between hemispheres as he worked alternate shifts on The Hobbit and the second series of Sherlock. Empire caught him on Sherlock's Cardiff set in early August — fortunately neither Smaug the dragon nor Moriarty were around — and sat him down in the BBC canteen to find out what's changed on Baker Street.
Warning: This interview does contain spoilers.
Are you feeling the pressure, coming back for Series 2?
There are lots of things that keep me awake at night, but work isn't one of them. I mean, no-one's going to die if someone doesn’t like what I do. So I don’t feel a great pressure. The first day of The Hobbit was nervy, but in a fun way, and with Sherlock obviously the success of the first series helps. At least a few people loved it, so hopefully we’ll have a fair bit of goodwill for the second series. Unless we fuck it up!
Has the relationship between Watson and Holmes changed?
|It's become more of a partnership. John is now only half a step behind Sherlock, as opposed to six steps.|
It’s developed like any other relationship. By the end of the first series, you saw John and Sherlock's friendship move on: I went from being just purely agog at everything he did, to being quite pissed off at some of the things he did. That road is explored further in the new series. But it's become more of a partnership. John is now only half a step behind Sherlock, as opposed to six steps.
What is Watson's reaction to Sherlock falling for Irene Adler in the first episode?
He’s not jealous. John thinks it would be much healthier if Sherlock had a relationship with a human being, as opposed to a book or a theory. In the interim between seasons, John’s had some fun and he'd like Sherlock to do the same. I think it makes Sherlock a bit more human in John’s eyes, although he happens to be falling in love with someone who’s as insane as he is. So for John it's, "Oh Christ, there’s two of them now." Irene is not the girl next door - she's brilliantly analytical and clever and cold and ruthless. It’s interesting watching these two people, who are essentially the same animal, attract and repel each other.
This series is out at the same time as Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game Of Shadows. Is there any competitiveness between you and rival Watson Jude Law?
Well, obviously Jude has the misfortune of not being very good-looking, so he has to watch jealously. No, we all went to see the first film and came away going, "We wanted to hate that, but we didn't." It was very entertaining and I love Jude. He’s good.
Watson gets married in Game Of Shadows. Do you see that happening in your show?
I'm sure that's something that may happen, depending on how long we keep doing this for. It's sort of intimated in this series that John's had a few girlfriends since we last saw the characters. Sherlock isn't happy about that. He sees it as a waste of time and a distraction.
|Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch shooting The Hounds Of Baskerville|
Can you talk about episode 2, The Hounds Of Baskerville?
I've always loved [original story, The Hound Of The] Baskervilles. Obviously since getting the role I’ve read a lot of Conan Doyle's stories now and that one is a great example of a page-turner. It's just rip-roaring fun and Mark [Gatiss] has adapted it brilliantly. The true joy of it is knowing that all three of these episodes are very, very strong - frighteningly strong. We've all looked forward to getting each script in an envelope, breezing through it and then texting each other.
And what’s up with the buzz cut?Benedict Cumberbatch On Sherlock's Return 'Deductions are always a very painful birth...'
John actually started out the first series with short hair, as he'd just got back from Afghanistan and was still in military mode. As the season went on, he relaxed and it got longer, but we decided to give it a cut this year. Short hair subconsciously says that this is a man ready for action. His wits are sharper.
Sherlock: Series 2 is airing on BBC1 on Sunday nights. For Empire’s exclusive on-set report, pick up the issue on sale now.