The wonderfully named Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother, is somewhat of an obscure Arthur Conan Doyle creation, appearing in four Sherlock Holmes stories, most notably 'The Greek Interpreter'. He is described as sort of a fatter, lazier version of Holmes, armed with powers of deduction that may surpass even those of his younger sibling's, but utterly unwilling to do the legwork to put them to any practical use. (Short digression: In this way, Mycroft Holmes is sort of like another of the great fictional detectives, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, a sedentary mountain of a man who refused to leave his Manhattan brownstone and had his assistant (and the books' narrator), Archie Goodwin, do all the running around. Wolfe was portrayed by Maury Chaykin in a short-lived but very good A&E television series.)

Obscurity notwithstanding, Mycroft Holmes will be included in next year's 'Sherlock Holmes 2' as part of Guy Ritchie's continuing (and not entirely unproductive) raid of Conan Doyle's mythology. And he'll be played by actor, scholar, humorist, and man-about-town Stephen Fry, which is promising. Fry announced his casting on a BBC radio show this weekend, though he compared the part kind of unfavorably to his role as Oscar Wilde in the eponymous 1997 film.


Fry is always a pleasure, and 'Sherlock Holmes' was the first Guy Ritchie film I ever liked -- tons of holiday season fun, true (in an admittedly perverse way) to the spirit of the source material. So I'm looking forward to the sequel. Of course, we still haven't heard anything about the real big-ticket item here: who will play Moriarty? The rumor mill has spit out names like Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, and Daniel Day-Lewis. (Of those three I'm actually partial to Crowe, who was awesome as the charismatic villain in '3:10 to Yuma'; Day-Lewis would be great, but maybe a little too on the nose.)

'Sherlock Holmes 2' is due in theaters around Christmas 2011.