Sitting down to talk to Jared Harris about his work in the new film “Sherlock Holmes – A Game Of Shadows,” I was excited not just because he’s playing Professor Moriarty in the sequel to Guy Ritchie’s first big hit adventure with the pulp detective, but also because of the full body of work that Harris has been putting together.
It must be hard as an actor when your father is not just a well-known person, but an undeniable legend. There’s no other way to describe Richard Harris, though, and a career like his casts a shadow over the entire English film community, not just the career of his son.
Despite that, Jared Harris has been very good over the course of his career at defining himself on terms totally removed from his father’s identity. He’s been great on “Mad Men” the last few seasons, and he’s always been a bit of a chameleon, vanishing into roles in a way his father never could. I still remember being impressed by his run of films around ’95, ’96, when he was in “Smoke” and “Dead Man” and especially “I Shot Andy Warhol,” and he seemed like such a great new presence.
Now here we are, fifteen years later, and he seems to me to be a perfect choice to embody Professor James G. Moriarty opposite a returning Robert Downey Jr., a genuine match for him physically and mentally. In real life, Harris was a boxing champion during his time at Cambridge, so it’s good to see someone wade in who can dish it out just as well as Downey.
We had a good conversation on a Sunday morning, the day before I interviewed everyone else with the film, because he had to get back to work the next day. He was juggling both “Mad Men” and Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” which seems like a pretty good problem to have as an actor, especially if the thing that’s causing the scheduling problem is a major role as one of the most famous villains in literature.
“Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows” opens everywhere tomorrow.