Find out the unusual story behind Netflix’s ‘Enola Holmes’

©Gulf News

‘Enola Holmes’ — Netflix’s high-energy film adaptation of the young adult adventure-mystery book series, which follows Sherlock Holmes’ spirited younger sister — hits Netflix on September 23.

Enola (Millie Bobby Brown), the spunky and unladylike teen sister of world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill), wakes up on her 16th birthday in 1884 England to find her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) has gone missing. Equipped with her unconventional education in science, cryptology and martial arts, she embarks on an adventure to find her mum — and ends up outsmarting her brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), as she unravels a dangerous conspiracy surrounding a mysterious young Lord.

We bring you the whacky story of how the movie came to be, including essential oils, ‘Fleabag’ and Millie Bobby Brown’s entire family...

It was Millie Bobbie Brown’s older sister who kick-started the campaign to get this film made

Millie Bobby Brown is best known for her role as Eleven in Netflix’s sci-fi preteen series ‘Stranger Things’. But the English actress was on the hunt for a British role to play. Her older sister, Paige Brown, discovered the ‘Enola Holmes’ books and immediately set her sights on a movie starring her younger sister. “From the moment I started reading, I saw Millie as Enola,” she said. “She’s a bit of a know-it-all, but also quite vulnerable. She’s smart and feisty. I knew the role was perfect for Millie.”

Paige and Millie took the books to their parents, who have a production company named PCMA Productions, named after their kids: Paige, Charlie, Millie and Ava. They found a home at Legendary Pictures studio who quickly came on-board.

“Paige and Millie brought the books to us and we immediately understood why they loved the story so much,” says producer and Legendary vice-chairman, Mary Parent. “We leapt at the opportunity to bring a female lens to Sherlock Holmes and it felt timely: It may be a story set in the Victorian era, but it’s about a girl who is trying to find her path, a girl who is trying to find her power in the world.”

Enola didn’t exist in the original Doyle books, but another author brought her to life

Nancy Springer began her ‘Enola Holmes Mysteries’ YA book series in 2006 with the first instalment, ‘The Case of the Missing Marquess’, more than a century after Arthur Conan Doyle introduced us to the Holmes clan in 1887.

“My habit has been to introduce female fictional characters into what were formerly predominantly male tales,” Springer said. “So I chose to give Sherlock Holmes a much younger sister. It delighted me to create a worthy female counterpart who has all the sass, the mental acuity, the deductive ability and the instinct to beat him at his own game.”

There’s a familiar eye behind the lens...

Emmy and Bafta Award-winning director Harry Bradbeer — behind hit series ‘Fleabag’ and ‘Killing Eve’ — helms this star-studded project. ‘Enola Holmes’ will be his first ever feature film.

The director said they put up three words on the wall of their production office: “Eccentricity, energy and emotion.”

“I loved the script. I was struck by its freshness and energy, its humour,” he said. “I was also excited to break the fourth wall. I’d used the same technique on ‘Fleabag’, but there was a particular reason to do it here — and the clue is in the name, Enola, ‘alone’ spelled backwards. Her loneliness meant that we were her only friend, she needed to communicate with us.”

This is Millie’s first lead role in a movie, too

The 16-year-old actress was happy to have the opportunity, considering how competitive the industry is.

“I’ve been there at the very hardest, when you’re auditioning constantly and getting no, after no, after no,” she said. “I’m in a fortunate position now where I get to explore new stories. But I’ve never been in a position where I get to pick what I want before. So, in this situation, it was very nice to be able to have that.”

She also loved Enola’s vulnerability and strength. “She goes to pretty dark places but she never gives up. It’s a big journey for her. She’s quite naive and comes up against forces that are way beyond her. So she has to find her own resources, her own voice even when there is no one around to help her.”

Helena Bonham Carter appears in only ONE scene that isn’t a flashback

“Eudoria is the ultimate missing protagonist,” said the iconic actress. “When [director Harry Bradbeer] offered me the role I told him, ‘Well, this may be the smallest part I’m ever going to play, but it’s also the best because she has so much colour to her.’ The script just works. It’s a really funny and ingenious story. She’s a woman that I’d love to have met.”

Bonham Carter said that, as the Holmes matriarch, Eudoria is “also the mother to the most famous genius on earth, Sherlock Holmes, so I felt that there should be seeds of him in her — so I insisted that I smoke a pipe and I teach my daughter to watch, to look, to listen and to be aware and know what is going on at all times and use all her deductive thinking.”

Bonham Carter and Millie spoke about essential oils for hours

On working with Bonham Carter, Millie said: “First of all she’s a legend, but also, I couldn’t picture anyone else playing my mother ... Before we started filming, we had this long, crazy discussion about nothing at all to do with the film — about candles and essential oils or something — it was amazing. And then at the end, I said, ‘Do you think that Eudoria is affectionate?’ And that then turned into a full two-hour conversation. We had these conversations that lasted ages and it was perfect because we needed it. We needed to dig deep so we didn’t really have to ask many questions while shooting.”

Bonham Carter, 54, called her co-star an “old soul”.

“Millie’s amazing. She’s a phenomenon. She’s only 16, but she doesn’t behave at all like a 16-year-old. Talk about an old soul ... We’re quite similar in some ways: we’re quite quicksilver both of us, we’re quite lively. I’m probably young for my age behaviourally and she’s very old for her age. Not all the time. Like she gave me a sour gobstopper the other day. That wasn’t funny,” said Bonham Carter, with a laugh.

Millie also made an impression on the director with her directness

Bradbeer was all praise for the ‘Stranger Things’ star. “She’s quick in her instincts and extraordinarily brave. After her intelligence, I think bravery is her most remarkable characteristic. It was a hugely exciting experience, for me, having this barrel of smarts and energy in there.”

Henry Cavill was able to explore a new side to Sherlock

Because Sherlock is not the centre of attention, as he’s used to being, Cavill could play around with his more human side.

“When Harry and I were discussing the character, we were very aware that Sherlock had been played wonderfully many times by many wonderful actors. And what we liked about this version was that it was untraditional due to the nature of who the story is about. This isn’t a Sherlock Holmes movie. This is an Enola Holmes movie. And in this case, he’s actually with another pea in the pod, if you will, and you see a lot more warmth, kindness, and a humanity to Sherlock.”

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2020. All rights reserved.Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc.