Today’s big Sherlock news is that the fourth season has finally announced its Big Bad, or at least, the actor behind him: Toby Jones, who many know from the Harry Potter franchise or films like Capote and The Mist.
Fans may remember the third season resolved a season-long arc with Charles Augustus Magnussen, a powerful and wealthy businessman who owned several newspapers. He was a known blackmailer, referred to by Sherlock Holmes as the “Napoleon of blackmail,” and their final confrontation seemed to doom Sherlock to an inescapable fate, until a twist ending pulled Sherlock back to British soil. If that twist is to be believed, Jones will be taking a backseat to a previous Big Bad, or maybe they’re tag-teaming their way through Sherlock’s team of allies.
Last month it was announced that the newest series of Sherlock will take place in Blighty again as Doctor Watson and his wife, Mary, prepare for their biggest challenge ever – becoming parents for the first time. Jones will star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the second episode of the upcoming three-part series. Episode two will be directed by Nick Hurran, who directed series-three “Sherlock” episode “His Last Vow,” which was nominated for an Emmy.
Jones is a bad guy go-to, having played Dr. Arnim Zola in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as a wonderfully evil turn as the Dream Lord in the Doctor Who episode “Amy’s Choice.”
Here are all the official statements on the casting, taken from press releases and Twitter. You’ll notice a theme:
Jones said: “I’m excited and intrigued by the character I shall be playing in Sherlock…”
The show’s co-creator Steven Moffat said: “Delighted to have Toby Jones on board, bringing to life one of Doyle’s finest villains.”
Co-creator, writer and exec producer Mark Gattis added: “We’re thrilled to welcome one of our finest actors to the Sherlock’ family. I know Toby will embrace the part with true relish.
Did you catch it? Zero information. Great work guys!
So who are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s finest villains that the series has not touched upon? Let’s take some stabs in the dark:
Baron Adelbert Gruner
The Baron is an Austrian nobleman appearing in the story “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.” He “collects women” and ruins their lives, before actually murdering them. Holmes is hired to stop him from doing the same to his latest mistress. The character is sort of a ladies man, so it would be cool to see Jones in that kind of role.
Regularly undercut by the fact he’s employed by Moriarty, Moran has his own bag of dastardly tricks. A former military man and huntsman with a dastardly-good shot, he is also reported to be so insane as to once “crawl down a drain after a wounded man-eating tiger” and so that’s not a bad idea to have a militarized damaged villain to mirror John Watson’s backstory.
Clay appears in “The Red-Headed League” and is described by Holmes as the fourth smartest man in London. His scheme involves using a legitimate business as a front to drill into a neighboring business to steal Napoleon’s gold. Could Jones play a Goldfinger-type at odds with Holmes?
The true antagonist of “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” was originally a rather innocent-looking former schoolmaster fond of chasing butterflies on the moors and pursuing antiquarian interests. Jack is a polite Victorian gentleman on the exterior but this hides a hot temper which reveals itself at key moments, which sounds like exactly the sort of role Jones is perfect to take on.
Windibank was Holmes’s nemesis in the story “A Case of Identity” in which he attempts to defraud his grown stepdaughter via a complicated plot involving him fabricating and pretending to be a totally new person with whom the stepdaughter becomes engaged. This isn’t so much a great choice for Jones as it is a reminder of the weirdest twist Doyle tried to sneak into a story, and I think we’d all be pretty baffled to watch it play out.
If you want to see Toby Jones’ full horrifying potential, check out his turn in the indie nightmare Berberian Sound Studio. You’ll never look at Jones the same way, I promise.