Ian McKellen To Play Sherlock Holmes

In Bill Condon's Slight Trick Of The Mind

Currently in Toronto for the world premiere of his Wikileaks drama The Fifth Estate, director Bill Condon has revealed that his next project will reunite him with his Gods And Monsters star Ian McKellen. Condon will direct A Slight Trick Of The Mind, and McKellen will star, as an aging Sherlock Holmes.

The film, to be written by Jeffrey Hatcher (The Duchess), is based on Mitch Cullin's novel of the same name. The book takes place in 1947 when Holmes is 93, long retired to his Sussex beekeeping and frustrated by his diminishing power of recollection. He believes his bees' royal jelly is part of the secret of his longevity, and his further researches into the subject have recently taken him to post-war Japan. There he encounters the son of a former British diplomat who knew Holmes and disappeared at the start of the war. Holmes doesn't remember, but feels the familiar pull of an unfinished case.

The novel weaves together three narratives: Sussex, Japan, and The (also still unsolved) Case Of The Glass Armonicist: a London tale from 1902 when Holmes was still active as a consulting detective. As with The Blanched Soldier and The Lion's Mane, Holmes narrates The Glass Armonicist himself. Don't expect to see much of Dr Watson in the film. He's only occasionally and fleetingly mentioned: long dead by the time of the main story and off with a wife in the flashback section.

Iain Canning and Emile Sherman (The King's Speech) are among the producers, along with head of BBC Films Christine Langan and Archer Gray Productions' Anne Carey (The American). "Mitch Cullin's elegiac novel is not so much about solving a mystery, as it is about accepting life's mysteries," believes Carey. "I could not be more excited about the talent who have come together to make this film a reality."

Shooting starts in the UK next April. In the meantime, keep an eye out for pap shots of Gandalf and Smaug discussing the finer points of Baker Street sleuthing.

Cullin's novel doesn't seem to be in print in the UK, but is published in the States by Anchor Books.