File this in the annals of perfect casting: Ian McKellen will be playing an old Sherlock Holmes in a film directed by Bill Condon.
Stuart Kemp of The Hollywood Reporter reports that the film, A Slight Trick of the Mind, will tell the story of a retired, mentally frail Holmes who is "haunted" by a case from 50 years ago. "He remembers only fragments: a confrontation with an angry husband, a secret bond with his beautiful but unstable wife," Kemp explains.
Though he's dealing with competing interpretations of Holmes from Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch, McKellen should be able to capture the wit of the man who in later life has to grasp at the past. That seems like rich material for the 74-year-old McKellen, still at the top of his game, appearing in wildly successful blockbusters in which he plays iconic characters like Gandalf and Magneto. (The Gandalf-Sherlock mashups have already begun.) Before he films his Sherlock movie, McKellen and his friend Patrick Stewart (who also happens to be his X-Men enemy Professor X) will be on Broadway this fall doing Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Harold Pinter's No Man's Land.
A Slight Trick of Mind, which is based on a novel by Mitch Cullin, will mark a reunion for McKellen and Condon, who collaborated on 1998's Gods and Monsters, about director James Whale. Condon won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for that movie and McKellen was nominated in the Best Actor category.
Unfortunately, Condon's film calls for Holmes to be without his compatriot Watson, so Stewart cannot take on the role.