Over the last few years, Nerd HQ, the four-day event created by actor Zachary Levi (Chuck, Thor: The Dark World) and held the same weekend as the annual pop culture convention, San Diego Comic-Con, has become a staple of the Comic-Con experience. Offering exclusive gaming and tech activations, nightly events, and intimate celebrity panels (all benefiting the charity Operation Smile), Nerd HQ has even become the perfect “alternate Con” for some geeks who are less than thrilled with the exhausting and over-crowded experience that can be SDCC.
Fanboy Comics was honored to be invited to the Sherlock Nerd HQ panel with Executive Producers Stephen Moffat and Sue Vertue and actor Rupert Graves. Walking into the panel, I confess, I was somewhat skeptical. A Sherlock panel without either Martin Freeman or Benedict Cumberbatch? What is the point? And, who is Rupert Graves again? Never mind Sue Vertue.
I’m a bad geek. Case in point, when Zachary Levi came out onstage to introduce the guests, I spent most of the time trying to figure out why he was famous. Why people paid 120 bucks for a shirt he just signed, aside from the fact that the proceeds went to Operation Smile.
Anyway, when the panelists came out, I realized that Rupert Graves plays Lestrade and, over the course of the panel, that Sue is Steven Moffat’s producing partner/wife/better half. It was one of the more entertaining panels I have ever attended; I could listen to Steven and Sue banter for days and with Rupert Graves doing the excited-to-be-here, humble actor bit, it really was a lovely dynamic. Here is the play by play:
-When asked why Moriarty was the last person to appear in Sherlock’s mind palace, Moffat downplayed it, saying that he was Sherlock’s nemesis, his great challenge, the one that beat him, nothing more.
-An audience member questioned Moffat about adding Molly Hooper to the Sherlock Holmes universe, and whether there was apprehension about other writers using that character. Moffat replied that there was none. He wasn’t jealous of his characters and feels that everyone is entitled to “all the toys in the sandbox.” He also mentioned that she was not originally supposed to return, but she provided such an appealing foil to Sherlock’s frigidity that the writer’s couldn’t resist bringing her back for more episodes.
-“What are the chances that a super intelligent criminal mastermind could fake a bullet wound to the head?” After the laughter from the audience subsided, Steven Moffat clarified: “What are the chances that someone could fake a bullet wound to the head whilst standing three feet from the world’s greatest detective?” None. Unfakable. Sherlock probably knew the velocity of the bullet, said Moffat. Deal with it folks, Moriarty is dead.
-Each of the panelists were posed the question, “Are you more Sherlock or Watson?” Moffat said he’s not smart enough to be Sherlock, so Watson. Rupert said, “Not Sherlock, I’m not even smart enough to be Watson. I’m just Lestrade,” to which the crowd tittered. As everyone’s attention focused on Sue, she said that she thinks probably Sherlock . . . the crowd quieted and she continued, she’s probably the closest thing to a genius sociopath of the three. The crowd, along with Moffat and Graves, erupted in laughter.
-A young woman from the audience was curious what Lestrade’s ideal date would be. Graves chuckled, “Lestrade’s ideal date? Mycroft.” Then, he hinted that we would see a change in the two characters’ relationship in season 4.
-Another fan wanted to know now that they’ve done the big three Sherlock stories (i.e., The Woman (A Scandal in Bohemia), The Hound ( . . . of the Baskervilles), and The Professor (The Final Problem), how do they choose what to do next. Moffat fielded this one, saying that frankly they did those (all of which incidentally in Series 2) because if they didn’t, everyone would want to know when they were going to do them. Going forward, he mused that there is plenty of material to mine, over 60 Sherlock Holmes stories. Besides, he’s not worried that they’ll run out, because they make the show “incredibly slowly.”
-A fan asked Rupert if he could say “You bastard.” Everyone laughed, but he obliged. Moffat then offered jokingly that he could record it as the questioner’s ring tone. Laughter all around.
-“Will the third sibling make an appearance?” a woman wondered.
“What third sibling?” Moffat replied coyly.
“Of Mycroft and Sherlock.”
“Who said there was one?”
“No I didn’t.”
“What about-” the woman laughed, “What about ‘the other one?’”
“Who said that refers to a sibling?” Moffat replied. Beaten and laughing, the woman sat. After a beat, Rupert turned to a self-satisfied Moffat,
“You bastard.” The crowd went crazy.
– When asked what specifically Rupert wanted to bring to his portrayal of Lestrade to distinguish it from other versions of the character, he replied that he just tried to bring the point of view of a “realistic copper” dealing with the Sherlock Holmes. Moffat added that Lestrade “gets it.” He’s a very strong man who can admit that Sherlock is smarter than him and can ask for help when he needs it which makes him a bigger man than Sherlock who can’t admit that his brother is smarter than him. He knows what “Sherlock can be on a good day and what he might be on a bad one.”
-Zachary Levi chimed in, following up on what was just said, that Mycroft is smarter than Sherlock. Is that true he wanted to know. Moffat said, “Yes, definitely.” In the originals, Sherlock is relaxed about that, but in their version, Sherlock is pissed off that Mycroft is smarter, but he’s got it under control, BUT Benedict is furious about it! Moffat then reenacted a common discussion of Benedict saying, “Mycroft’s not really smarter than me, right?”
“Yeah. Yeah he is. And, not only is Mycroft smarter than Sherlock, but Mark (Gatiss, who plays Mycroft and writes and produces the show) is smarter than you.
-When asked what has been the most surprising thing about the response to the show, Moffat talked about the female fanbase being wonderful and surprising.
-Finally, someone asked if Steven Moffat would ever consider making a cameo in the show, Moffat replied that, unfortunately, he’s s–t at acting so, no. It wouldn’t work because you have this stellar ensemble of actors, and then you’d have this one “fat bloke who looks like he’s won a competition. It wouldn’t work. Not since Lazenby played Bond.”
Those are the highlights for the 2015 Sherlock Nerd HQ panel, I learned a lot and had a great time doing it, something that seems somehow rare these days. Fanboy Comics wishes to extend a special thank you to Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue, Rupert Graves, Zachary Levi, Xaque Gruber, and everyone else at Nerd HQ who helped make this year’s event possible.
For more of Fanboy Comics’ coverage of the San Diego Comic-Con 2015, please visit www.fanboycomics.net.