Sherlock Baron Cohen Holmes. Plus Will Watson.
Iconic detective Sherlock Holmes and his trusty aide John Watson are returning to the silver screen, to be played by Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell.
The fact that both comedians are better known for their clueless on-screen personas -- Borat, Ron Burgundy -- than for their clue-solving abilities is part of the joke. "Just the idea of Sacha and Will as Sherlock Holmes and Watson makes us laugh," Columbia Co-President Matt Tolmach told Variety. "Sacha and Will are two of the funniest and most talented guys on the planet, and having them take on these two iconic characters is frankly hilarious."
Sherlock Holmes first appeared in "A Study in Scarlet," a novel published in 1887; author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote three more Holmes novels and more than four dozen short stories over the next 40 years. The character has endured in ways that few others do. Today there are thousands of Sherlock Societies, and in London, you can visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum, located at 221b Baker Street, where Holmes, the fictional character, "lived."
Holmes has been living on-screen since the earliest days of silent movies, when Doyle was still writing the stories. According to the IMDB website, the first Sherlock Holmes film was a 1908 Danish short; Essanay (the company that made Charlie Chaplin's films) made its first Holmes picture in 1916. In 1922, John Barrymore, one of the screen's most esteemed actors, appeared in the title role. And on and on, with the Baron Cohen-Ferrell picture scheduled for 2009.
Holmes also plays on smaller screens: You can get the Holmes story, "A Case of Identity," delivered to your cellphone for about $10. And Daily Lit, which will send books by e-mail in installments, offers all of the Sherlock Holmes novels and several of the stories free.
Photo credits: Sacha Baron Cohen - Robert Caplin / For The Times; Will Ferrell - Frank Masi / Associated Press; Sherlock Holmes statue - BBC News