STARBUST catches up with Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Royce Pierreson, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson respectively in the new Netflix series The Irregulars at the recent round-table…
STARBURST: The dynamic of Holmes and Watson is always going to be key. Did you put a lot of thought into how you would play that as their relationship is fundamental to the central story?
Royce Pierreson: I don’t think we really thought about how we would build the relationship. It’s often about how you react to the other person and luckily, Henry and I get on very well. It felt natural. It was so much our dynamic, whatever fits at that moment. Actors can get confused. What if I get to set and I don’t feel like I did when I rehearsed it? If you’ve done your work whatever will be there is there. These characters are also living through you, so you have to let them use whatever you’re feeling, otherwise you just get two people talking at each other. It was great to work with Henry and it’s great to see our Holmes and Watson come across so well.
Henry Lloyd-Hughes: If you’re reading the scripts you encounter the Watson character much earlier so I’m getting a sense of the mood and the atmos around this guy. Obviously, Royce brought that from day one. On our first day together Royce had a line ‘Do you see me?’ and there is so much wrapped up in that. There is so much meaning and import, but it’s just the one line. We’re trying to navigate all the subtext and all the history in there. You have all these ideas but on the day you just have to react simply and truthfully. You can’t play 150 years of history every day.
What was your reaction when you read the scripts and what did you think of your characters?
RP: You shoot in blocks so you get a couple of episodes at a time, but they’re always re-writing. You don’t get that much information but what you need you get from the director and the writers, and they develop it also through you. It’s a collaboration.
HLH: I agree. I think that people who are not actors can underestimate how much can change. You’re hoping that something you do in early episodes doesn’t result in you being written into a corner later on (laughs). Sometimes when you get to a table read you’ve only had the script for 48 hours so your character might have taken a great leap. It’s rare to know exactly where your character goes from the beginning.
The show is pretty scary at times so how are you guys at handling scary things? Are you fans of the genre?
RP: I’m a scaredy-cat. I can’t really watch horror films and I don’t like being scared. Filming is different. I didn’t have too many interactions with scary things in the show like some of the others. But filming is just a process and the elements don’t come together until the end.
HLH: I’m the same. I almost had a heart attack this morning as my wife came into the bathroom while I was having a shower and I didn’t hear her coming. I don’t mind making it but I’ll be hiding behind the sofa in real life.
You’ve both worked on programs with lots of CGI and sets but here you have a lot of real locations. How much of a difference does that make?
HLH: I think it makes a huge difference. Sets are always amazing and there’s always an advantage that you’re not going to get rained on. But the luxury of being able to walk in one room, then down a corridor that’s a real corridor in an old house, and then into another room that’s still in the world of the character; I don’t think you can put a price on that.
RP: I agree. I’ve never met an actor who prefers working without it that with it.
Obviously this is an original piece of work but did you feel any pressure playing these characters?
HLH: Oftentimes as an actor, you’re thrown in at the deep-end with little notice so there was really time to read up on everything Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. Also, we knew this version of Victorian London with all the supernatural elements, I couldn’t really picture any of the previous incarnations. It felt very different.
RP: Whoever has played Watson before doesn’t really inform me. To me, Watson was really just a name so I started to play around with the character and that he was a traveller. He’s a chancer who just ends up in situations. I wanted the accent to be slightly miss-matched to the man, so I was trying to find this strange balance which gave me different layers to the character.