Literary mainstay Sherlock Holmes has fascinated readers since 1887. Since films start as scripts read by someone, it’s no surprise that his appeal extends to countless novels and film adaptations with widely varying interpretations. No version of Holmes, however, will be quite like the upcoming reinvention em>Sherlock Gnomes. The 3D animated film is a sequel to 2011’s Gnomeo & Juliet — which told the story of two star-crossed gnomes who fell in love despite the protestations of their warring families.
Much like its predecessor, Sherlock Gnomes boasts a star-studded voice cast. Before it hits theaters, let’s polish off the magnifying glass and investigate which Hollywood stars are voicing these gnomes.
Reprising his role from Gnomeo & Juliet, James McAvoy once again voices Gnomeo. Based on the character of Romeo Montague from William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Gnomeo was very much the star of the previous film and McAvoy’s performance was a key factor in making the character come to life. The tenured actor may be best known as young Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise, but he’s no stranger to animated movies, having lent his voice to Arthur Christmas as well as Gnomeo & Juliet.
Emily Blunt also returns from the previous film to once again voice the gnome alter-ego of Juliet Capulet. Blunt is right on the verge of going from fan-favorite to major star. She’s got animation experience (having voiced characters in Animal Crackers and My Little Pony: The Movie) and is a singer, but her claim to fame is a string of incredible performances in films ranging from The Devil Wears Prada to Edge of Tomorrow. Later this year, she’ll take center stage as the title character in the highly-anticipated Mary Poppins Returns.
A larger-than-life character requires a larger-than-life actor. Sherlock Gnomes is in luck, because film icon Johnny Depp delivers the voice of the crafty and perceptive detective. While Mr. Gnomes will be a little more humorous than his literary counterpart, he possesses many recognizable Holmes attributes. With his ability to project a quirky tone and bubbly personality, Depp is the perfect choice to play Sherlock Gnomes. This won’t be the only time he is featured on the big screen this year. Depp also stars in the live-action Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald in November.
No Sherlock Holmes story would be complete without the detective’s trusty companion, Watson. The gnome iteration of the character will be voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor. With witty responses and quick-thinking solutions, we should expect Gnome Watson to be one of Sherlock Gnomes‘ standout characters. Ejiofor has an extensive catalog of roles to his name, most recently appearing as Karl Mordo in Doctor Strange. And while Sherlock Gnomes may be his first voice work, it won’t be his last — he is voicing the imposing Scar in Disney’s upcoming Lion King reboot.
Mary J. Blige
Even the often-distracted detective can fall in love, and Mary J. Blige voices Irene, the animated counterpart to Sherlock Holmes’s classic counterpart, Irene Adler. Blige is a music icon, of course, but she has been making waves in Hollywood too. Her supporting role in Mudbound earned her a well-deserved Academy Award nomination. Sherlock Gnomes will be her first voice role.
Returning from the first film, Michael Caine is back as Lord Redbrick. He’s the gnomes’ answer to Lord Capulet, and Redbrick is very protective of his daughter Juliet. However, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between the Redbricks and the Blueburys has changed now that the Romeo & Juliet-inspired story has been told. With an instantly recognizable voice like his, Caine will no doubt ensure that Redbrick is a standout in the film.
Dame Maggie Smith reprises her role from Gnomeo & Juliet, as Gnomeo’s mother Lady Bluebury. With the family feud behind them, we have to wonder if she will maintain the peace with Lord Redbrick. Ironically, Smith’s only previous voice role outside of this franchise was in 1990’s rarely-seen Romeo.Juliet featuring – and this is true – real feral cats as the characters, with voiceover from actors such as Dame Smith. Regardless, as showcased by her countless roles, Smith’s voice is one of her greatest assets.
Also returning from Gnomeo & Juliet, Ashley Jensen will be voicing Nanette. The character is inspired by Romeo & Juliet‘s Nurse, and when we last saw her, she was deeply in love with Paris. Her dreams came true as the two are now in a relationship. Aside from Nanette, Jensen has voiced characters in films such as How To Train Your Dragon and Arthur Christmas.
Like his Shakespearean counterpart, Stephen Merchant’s Paris was originally arranged to marry Juliet. But upon surviving being shattered, he ended up with Nanette. The English writer/actor is undoubtedly best known for his work on comedies The Office and Extras. He’s also, of late, known for his dramatic performance as Caliban in Logan.
Benny, the hilarious gnome version of Benvolio voiced by Matt Lucas, was a standout of Gnomeo & Juliet. So you can bet Lucas will have no problem making us laugh once again. The British actor showcases his vocal talents on BBC’s comedy Little Britain, in which he portrays a wide range of different characters.
Dame Julie Walters plays Ms. Montague. While the character isn’t one of the gnomes, her name is clearly a nod to Romeo & Juliet‘s Montague family. A legend of television, film and theater, Walters has lent her recognizably bubbly voice to numerous films. She’s also a singer, and will be showcasing her talents in both Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Mary Poppins Returns later this year.
Sherlock Gnomes hits theaters on March 23.