Rhys Ifans Joins ‘Elementary’ as Mycroft Holmes

Published 2 years ago by

Elementary Rhys Ifans Rhys Ifans Joins ‘Elementary’ as Mycroft Holmes

Ever since its first announcement, the CBS series Elementary has drawn incessant, mostly unfavorable comparison to its mega-popular counterpart on the BBC, Sherlock. Nonetheless, Elementary did quite well for itself during its first season, earning decent ratings and an increasingly loyal fanbase.

So far, Elementary has distanced itself from Sherlock by borrowing very little from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, instead using them to build an American-style mystery-procedural. This may soon change, as Elementary’s season 2 premiere will take Holmes and Watson across the pond to London – where they will meet Holmes’ older brother and Sherlock fixture, Mycroft Holmes.

The Wrap shares the news that character actor Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man) has agreed to join the cast of Elementary as Mycroft Holmes. Ifans will debut in the series premiere and will have a recurring role in the series.

In the original Doyle stories, Mycroft was depicted as a man with an intellect equal to (or even exceeding) that of his brother. Unfortunately, chronic laziness and apathy bar Mycroft from serious investigative work. Despite this, he works as a high-ranking functionary in the British government, solving otherwise unsolvable problems of state.

The more recent BBC television series features a far more active, neurotic Mycroft (played by series co-creator Mark Gatiss) in “freelance” employ of various intelligence agencies. His rivalry with Sherlock underpins some of the series’ major conflicts.

Elementary Jonny Lee Miller Lucy Liu Rhys Ifans Joins ‘Elementary’ as Mycroft Holmes

It will be interesting to see how Elementary approaches Mycroft as a character – and how Ifans chooses to play him. The perpetually scruffy actor has proved that he can cover a wide range – from amiably goofy to downright creepy. Given that Ifans has previously acted alongside with Elementary stars Jonnny Lee Miller (Byzantium) and Lucy Liu (The Man with the Iron Fists), we should at the very least see some decent onscreen chemistry.

One overarching question about the casting is whether the addition of Mycroft sends Elementary into territory already covered by Sherlock, something the American show has (largely) avoided to this point.

Will the comparisons rise again, this time to Elementary’s definite detriment? Or will the contrast only underscore how – even though they both feature Sherlock Holmes as the main character – the two series are actually very different?


Elementary will return to CBS this fall.

Source: The Wrap

Follow Kyle Hembree on Twitter @ProjectNightHam
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  1. I love Elementary! I’ve never seen Sherlock, but I can say that this show carries itself. It saddens me that so many compare it to Sherlock when it’s obvious that Elementary is not trying to copy that show’s formula or success.

    • “it’s obvious that Elementary is not trying to copy that show’s formula or success.”

      The only reason Elementary is on the air is because of the success of the Sherlock series. CBS approached Steven Moffat to create an American version. When he turned them down, they went and did it anyways without him. It’s a cheap knockoff.

      • While the popularity of the Sherlock Holmes movies as well as the tv show may have influenced the shows inception, Elementary itself is NOTHING like Sherlock. It would have been a knock off if they had repeated the shows storylines and tone but they’ve gone a completely different direction.

        • Early in your first post you stated “I’ve never seen Sherlock”… if that’s true, how do you know that “Elementary itself is NOTHING like Sherlock”?

          I admit that I’ve seen virtually none of the Elementary series… I just couldn’t get through the first episode. I found the acting and dialog to be sub-par (for me). I did recognize immediately though that they were ‘borrowing’ a number of stylistic technics from Sherlock. It’s entirely possible they’ve moved away from those, that the scripts have gotten better, or even that the acting has improved as the series matured… I wouldn’t know, having not given a second thought to watching it again.

          I just think it’s disingenuous for someone who hasn’t seen the first one to definitively state the second is ‘nothing like’ it. I CAN say that the second very much started off in the same vein… I would just say that there’s nothing wrong with that per se. As long as it’s done well, who cares?

          • Elementry and sherlock are very diffrent but as an american even i know that BBC does it so much btter. Sherlock and luther are incredible, and even the few episodes ive seen of being human was really good. Not to mention the IT Crowd which i love. I do like the u.s office better tho

  2. I like Elementary and love Sherlock. I am glad Elimentary is traveling its own path. I do think it could benefit from a little more connection to the original Arthur Connon Doyle source material though.

    • i was not a fan of the elementary version of Moriarty, but the show is very good in its own right as a “sherlock whodunit”. If you want a show that sticks to the material more than you watch Sherlock on BBC, but that way you only get 6 episodes. Elementary is a 24 episodic mystery, that tbh kept me on my toes the whole season. Well written and acted. I do like the female version of watson as well.

  3. Elementary always felt like a show that was like Sherlock Holmes rather than being about Sherlock Holmes. Apart from having the same characters it was about as Holmes’y as House. It’s still a good show, but I hope it does something to really wow us this season.

  4. I find this article to be somewhat passive-aggressive toward Elementary. Elementary is fantastic, and commentary like this only serves to keep the comparisons and incessant twitching from SOME Sherlock fans alive.

    Mycroft is an ACD character. Period. Elementary is borrowing from the canon. Sherlock is not the canon. Sherlock is another interpretation of the canon. Inferring that Sherlock somehow owns more right to ACD’s work over ‘firsties’ is strange to me. Both shows are great. Both serve different purposes. But dismissing Elementary as some kind of bargain basement Sherlock is unfair, given the format, network, and airtime all differ. Elementary isn’t strictly procedural. Sherlock doesn’t touch Elementary in character growth. They are just…different.

    • +1,000,000,000… Well said. I honestly DO NOT get all the fawning over Benedict Cumberbatch. Sure, he’s a good actor, but I just don’t get why people seem to think he’s soooo great. That level of appeal eludes me.

  5. Elementary was one of our favorite shows this season… did ScreenRant to episodic reviews? Another to add to their list.

  6. my daughter has, in the past couple of years (shes 18), read all of doyle’s books, has watched most every incarnation of SH on netflix; she suggested sherlock to me, which i love, and then we both added elementary to one of the (now)3 shows we watch together (grimm and person of interest being the other 2),she points out all the easter eggs in elementary that refer to one of the original stories. i look forward to how they keep it fresh.

    ****** spoiler if you’ve not seen the entire season of the show yet******

    i loved the irene adler/moriarty twist. i never saw it coming. looking forward to elementary and sherlock coming back this season

  7. By FAR, Elementary is superior to Sherlock in every manner one can think of. Moriarty in Sherlock was just downright flamingly homosexual, something that irked me fiercely about his character. In Elementary, she was a criminal genius, the Napoleon of crime and rightfully so. She tore down Sherlock, but he rose from the ashes with a new lady at his side (though I do sincerely hope they keep Holmes and “Joan” platonic)

    Sherlock is a decent show, but Elementary blows it out of the water.

      • There’s a difference between ‘think’ and ‘know’, love.

        Sherlock – stupid

        Elementary – amazing

        Those who say Sherlock ‘keeps to the mythos’ obviously haven’t read the books. Neither sticks with the mythos, but that’s the point, they branch off into their own stories, and that’s what makes Elementary superior, in that it creates its own stories without having to copy Doyle too much.

        And asides from that, the casting of Sherlock is dreadful

      • And for a British person, you’re butchering the English language.

        Guess your teeth aren’t the only rotten things in your skull, eh?

        • Lawrence, I have a new hero and it is YOU.

          • I get that a lot xD

      • Massive fan of both shows, and my allegiance to each changes with the tide. I often find myself siding with Elementary for it’s ability to draw out story and character development, whilst I find Sherlock acting and cinematography superior at times.

        However, what truly irks me is people who complain about Elementary being “procedural”. Sherlock Holmes has never been about an overarching storyline. Too often adaptations focus on “Moriarty” and “irene Adler” who only really appear in singular short stories. In the original works, the reams of short stories, Sherlock Holmes IS PROCEDURAL! That’s the point! He consults, does a case for somebody, then sits at home and waits for another. The short stories resemble procedural cop shows more than hard-hitting over-arching drama. One cannot bash Elementary for being procedural and still claim it does not draw enough from original works!

    • “Moriarty in Sherlock was just downright flamingly homosexual, something that irked me fiercely about his character.”

      Ah. The crux of the matter.

      • I’ve nothing against homosexuals (they’re disgusting)

        But Moriarty is meant to be a dastardly, cunning, snide and pompous villain in all regards. Not a queer who flamboyantly flails his hands and squeaks like a prepubescent male

        • what is with all the hate? are you having an orientation crisis? i did agree with you until you showed what a closed-minded, unenlightened troll you are. go back to the 80’s with your hate-mongering please!

          • Sherlock’s Moriarty looked like the bastard child of Elijah Wood and Bobcat Goldthwait.

          • As if a “close-minded troll” could rival my genius.

            Do not think that one’s stance should change if you agree with them or not. You agreed with me.

            I win…so I win.

  8. I’m surprised people think Elementary even holds a candle to Sherlock. By far, Sherlock is the better show. The acting, script and characters are top notch, and having the Cumberbatch/Freeman duo really makes it shine. I like the RDJ/Law films, but even those aren’t half as good as Sherlock is. Besides, with each episode at a running time of 90 minutes, they’re basically films that air on television. Can’t go wrong with that. Man, now I can’t wait for season 3.

    • i’m surprised at all the people who are surprised that people have a different opinion about something. i like both shows. they both have their strengths and weaknesses. if it’s alright with the one-side-or-the-other people in here, i’ll watch both.

  9. I do like the female version of watson as well.

    • lucy liu is an amazing actress. just watch her in ally mcbeal to see some real range (granted, most of the time she is a heartless, conceited, mewling quim, but she does have a few dramatic scenes that will make you do a double take.) she’s also good in lucky number slevin, and kill bill 1.

  10. For me, Elementary is a good procedural but that’s all. I like all the actors but it’s “out of sight, out of mind” thing for me. On the other hand, I can wait (im)patiently for more Sherlock for years and watch and re-watch the episodes available. Case in point: I will get Elementary on DVD but only once the price goes down

  11. (cont.) Sherlock I had to pre-order even before it aired.

  12. Elementary was meant to be an American modern re-imagining, so it accomplished its goal. And based on ratings, one of the best shows of the season.

    I’m surprised no one is bashing RDJ’s Sherlock.

  13. Wow a Sherlock vs. Elementary shouting match!! Well if we were to actually discuss this article which regards the casting of Rhys Ifans as Mycroft Holmes I’m all for it! That dude was great as Dr. Connors. He’ll be an awesome addition to this show.

  14. I absolutely prefer Elementary to Sherlock. Sherlock doesn’t touch Elementary in terms of character growth and development. Elementary isn’t afraid to look at an ACD story and say “But what if this happened…” It’s more creative. Sherlock is good and it’s very pretty, but on a serialized series level, I’d give it to Elementary time and time again.

  15. Just saw the first ep of Sherlock because of this thread.

    Pretty good.

    Sherlock and Elementary are both good shows, just different.

    And it’s hard not to like Lucy Liu.