Did Will Ferrell’s Sherlock Holmes Movie Just Find Its Moriarty?

Sherlock Holmes has been a cherished literary character for 120 years, but right now is one of the peak periods for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation. The detective can currently be seen in multiple iterations on the big and small screens through BBC's Sherlock, CBS's Elementary and the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies. Soon the comedy Holmes & Watson will join the bunch, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, respectively, as the eponymous characters. Today it was announced that Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie will also appear in the movie, and we suspect one of them will be playing Holmes' most dangerous enemy, Moriarty.

THR described Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie's Holmes & Watson roles as being "two beloved characters from the Holmes oeuvre." In other words, they'll be people recognizable from the lore rather than new creations for this movie. Fiennes and Laurie join a cast that also includes Rebecca Hall as Dr. Grace Hart, Kelly McDonald as Mrs. Hudson, Lauren Lapkus as Millie and Rob Brydon as Inspector Lestrade. Holmes & Watson will be Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly's third movie together as co-leads, previously partnering for Talladega Nights and Step Brothers.

Ralph Fiennes Hugh Laurie

Although Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes canon stretches across 4 novels and 56 short stories, there weren't that many recurring/notable supporting characters. Taking into account how prominent Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie are as actors, that makes it very likely that one of them (I'm guessing Hugh Laurie) will play Professor James Moriarty. Although Moriarty only appeared directly in "The Final Problem," he's commonly known as Holmes' arch-nemesis, and has most recently been played in live action by Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Andrew Scott (Sherlock) and Natalie Dormer (Elementary, as a hybrid of Moriarty and Irene Adler). Even though Holmes & Watson is a comedy, it would be weird if Ferrell's Sherlock wasn't matching wits with his intellectual (albeit malevolent) equal.

As for this other classic character, that's slightly trickier to pin down. Since Rob Brydon already has Lestrade covered, that leaves two primary options left. The most likely is Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother who is smarter than the detective, but isn't nearly as ambitious, preferring to sit on the side and work out the details rather than do any legwork. (That could be a good fit for Ralph Fiennes.) The other possibility that comes to mind is Sebastian Moran, Moriarty's second-in-command. There's also the chance that Laure or Fiennes are playing another one of the recurring inspectors, like Gregson or Bradstreet, but with Lestrade already involved, another inspector seems unnecessary. We'll just have and see what's in store for Fiennes and Laurie in the Holmesian comedy.

Directed and written by Get Hard's Etan Cohen, Holmes & Watson is currently shooting, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more details on its progress, including when it will be released.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.