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Benedict Cumberbatch Not Exactly Thrilled that Jonny Lee Miller is Ripping Off His Sherlock

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | August 30, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | August 30, 2012 |

As most of you well know, CBS — the network that your grandparents love to watch — is coming out with an adaptation of “Sherlock Holmes.” It will be a contemporary re-telling of Sherlock, and it will likely be very procedural in nature, given CBS’s history. The show, “Elementary,” has one wrinkle in that Watson will be played by a female, Lucy Liu, but otherwise, it feels very much like a rip-off of PBS’s magnificent “Sherlock,” starring Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch.

As it turns out, Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller are actually friends in real life, having worked together on Danny Boyle’s stage production of Frankenstein. A few months ago, Jonny Lee Miller noted that Cumberbatch had given him his blessing to do “Sherlock,” according to Miller.

“I love the work that Benedict has done with “Sherlock.” I would call him up like a groupie after every episode had come out. I’ve been able to reassure him about how different this script was … [Cumberbatch] was excited for me and he was very encouraging and we discussed it.”

Well, turns out, that’s not exactly the case, at least according to Cumberbatch, in an interview with

“I got hold of the pilot script just to check it out. I don’t know, we’ll see,” Cumberbatch says in the interview. “I think there’s room for us both to coexist. I don’t feel threatened by it and I wish him the best, which is as diplomatic as I can be.”

He continues: “It’s very odd. I did say [to Miller], ‘Well, I’d prefer you didn’t do it but you’ve got a kid to feed, a nice house in LA and a wife to keep in good clothes.’ I think Jonny was like, ‘Mate, I’ve got the f—king mountain to climb here, you’ve got nothing to fear.’ I wish him the best of luck, but I’m a bit cynical about why they’ve chosen to do it and why they cast him.”

I suppose the good news is, Miller will never, ever match Cumberbatch’s performance in “Sherlock” and he’ll spend the entire series fending off comparisons. The bad news, of course, is that Miller’s version will likely be more accessible to network television audiences, run for seven years, and make Miller more money than BBC ever thought to pay Cumberbatch.

Here’s a preview of CBS’s “Elementary,” if you’re morbidly curious.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.