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SHERLOCKED: Andrew Scott Panel Transcript * 17 June 2015

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The following is the full transcript of Andrew Scott's solo panel at Sherlocked on Saturday April 25 2015. This panel occurred simultaneously to our preparation for our Q&A with Sue Vertue on the second stage at the event, so unfortunately we lack any photographs from this panel itself.

Moderator: This is really nice because you're not at the point where you're booing me. I've only just met the next guest who is coming on in a few seconds and I can honestly say that he is one of the loveliest persons I have ever met in my life.

(Huge cheers from the audience)

Moderator: I think you're all in for great treat. So let's bring on stage probably one of the greatest TV villains of all time... Mr Andrew Scott!

Hello everybody!

Moderator: That's a lot of flashing going on, but thankfully it's just the cameras.

Flashing of the camera variety yeah, hello everybody.

(Cheers from the audience)

Moderator: It seems as though Moriarty has got almost as big a following as Sherlock, despite the fact he's the villain!

Yeah, he does have a big following. I think it's because he's a lot of fun. Everybody likes  a bad guy.

Moderator: But he kills blind old ladies! That was horrible!

That was in the past, it's in the past! We've got to look to the future!

Moderator: Ah! Future! Does Moriarty have a future?

(Huge cheers from the audience)

As if I'm going to answer that question.

Moderator: But we did miss you. I know that you guys are absolutely bursting to ask a question so we'll start this early because I just want you guys to get your happy memories!

Audience Question 1: I wondered if you preferred acting in theatre on stage or acting for screen?

I like a bit of both actually, I like to do whatever I haven't been doing previously. So the theatre is very, very exhausting, you do eight shows a week. A lot of people I met today came to see Birdland last year, and it's really lovely to see lots of Sherlock fans at the theatre. I feel very, very passionate about the theatre. A lot of the guys in the cast have come from the theatre. It's where you really get to connect directly with an audience, so I would never give it up, it's something I would continue to do, hopefully for the rest of my life. But having said that, I like to do filming as much as I can too. So I like to keep a bit of both, it's all more or less the same. I like to keep the variety there.

Moderator: So, Moriarty in the Sidney Paget illustrations, as Steven Moffat described him, looks like an elderly bank manager. Were you surprised when they were looking for someone much younger?

Well, I still haven't to this day looked at any previous incarnations of Moriarty. I think it's very important because Steven and Mark are such Sherlock enthusiasts, they know so much about all the previous incarnations of all the characters, I just wanted to make the character as playful as possible and I like the idea that you expect the unexpected with Moriarty. So I've always wanted to sort of change it up a bit, so I've never really looked at any of the previous incarnations. My problem before was that I always wanted to play a villain all throughout my twenties but I had a very innocent little face.

(Audience laughs)

Well I was in my twenties, which is gone now, through bitterness.

So I always felt I could play a villain, so when the opportunity came up I went in to audition for Sue and Mark and Beryl and Paul McGuigan. Sue I remember did look genuinely scared in the audition, so I thought 'this is going well.'

Moderator: I think it's safe to say having seen many Moriarty's, yours is utterly different so you've got nothing to worry about. And it's lovely to see someone breathe new life into a character who has been played since the 30s. 

Well I think it's really important that it's playful. When it first came out I was quite pleased actually as I think a lot of people weren't expecting Moriarty to be played like that so in the first series a lot of people were quite horrified and some people didn't like it. I don't care about that, I think you've got to do whatever you've got to do and continue to play the part the way I wanted to play it. I always think if you're going to do something original you've got to divide people at the beginning. Some people didn't really like it, some people loved it from the beginning and I've had great support from it, but I love the idea of people having extreme reactions to the character because that's a sign we've done something original.     

Moderator: You mentioned earlier that Sue was quite taken aback with your audition, there's one line in particular from The Great Game - "I'll burn the heart out of you". That's fantastic. Utterly chilling, because you believe it.

Ah yeah. Benedict and I are always laughing because when we work together I like to do it in a lot of different ways, different takes and sometimes it's highly embarassing. He's such a playful character you have to sort of be alive in the moment, see what Benedict is doing and not just practice something and do it exactly the same way for each take. So I like to do it a lot of different ways and sometimes it's just really cringe making stuff, and sometimes it works, so I can't really remember that, "I'll burn the heart out of you", but it probably just came up after lunch, or I was hungry, I dunno.

(Audience laughs)

Moderator: Heartburn.

Heartburn, yeah.

Moderator: Did you in your mind give Moriarty a back story? Some actors do that, some just read the lines.

I think it's really important that you don't have a back story for Moriarty actually, because the scariest people in the world, if somebody breaks into your house, or somebody attacks someone that you know, or you're walking down a street and you see somebody that frightens you, the reason you're scared of them is that you don't know anything about them. Knowledge is power and if you don't have any knowledge about where he's come from it makes him all the more powerful. So there's certain things I have in my own head but I would never speak about them publicly because I think that reduces the character a little bit, and what I really appreciate in Sherlock is how little he is used actually. I think it's very important that you don't overuse the character, and that when you see him you really enjoy his presence, and so he's not there all the time so we don't get bored of him.

Moderator: I love in the early episodes that his presence was just represented by a red dot, and also the way they kept it secret when Molly brought in the boyfriend, no one had a clue. She had been bonking Moriarty and not knowing it. No wonder Sherlock treats her like shit.

Bonking. That's a very retro phrase you have there. (Laughs)

Moderator: I couldn't say it any other way.

Couldn't say it any other way, exactly, there are children present. But yeah, I thought that was really cool and actually very cool of the producers of Sherlock. I think the casting of the show is really one of its chief achievements. I don't think the TV audience certainly were familiar with my face, so I think that made it more surprising, where if you had someone that you knew you'd go "there's Moriarty." I always love when you see new actors on the screen, I think it's really important we give young actors their chance for when their time comes, because I appreciated it when I got my chance.

Audience Question 2: You said you didn't want to develop a back story for Moriarty, but do you think he is insane or do you think his intelligence sets him apart like Sherlock?

I think that he is a very, very lonely character. I think what distinguishes him from Sherlock is that he doesn't have any friends. I see him as a very solitary character. One of the beautiful things about Sherlock is the friendship between John and Sherlock. So he is sociopathic in the sense that he doesn't have anybody to relate to, and I think that is what we all want. We all want to love somebody and be loved, and I don't think that he has that in his life. I hope that there's a sort of aura of sadness about the character. When people have responded to the character in the way they have, they in a way sort of like him because if you see a little glimmer of humanity in him that makes him a character we can feel compassion for. Otherwise we just absolutely hate him, and I think that what's nice about the way the character is written is that we like him as well as hate him. (Laughs)

Audience Question 3: Hi, my name is Maximus Woodward.

My God Maximus where are you? (Deep voice) Maximus Woodward! Where is Maximus? There he is. Hi Maximus! That is a cool name!

Audience Question 3: Moriarty is my favourite character, and I'd just like to ask. Obviously you are a very different person to Moriarty, so how do you get into the mindset?

Well I'm very suspicious of anybody who says they don't have any darkness within them. People who say that they're nice, I always think it's better to be a good person than a nice person, because nice people are a little bit sinister you know? It's true, I am quite different from the character, but that's actually why it's such a fun character to play because you get to do something that's very different from your own personality. But having said that, I definitely have a dark side and an angry side that I actually get to get out a little bit through my work and whatever in a way. I used to act a little, I don't know if many of you guys act yourselves in a sort of part time way or an amateur way, but I used to act as a kid, and when you're a kid you just play a part, you're playing and you use your imagination, so I never tried to stray too far from that. I'm just trying to embrace the fun side of it, and the darkness, and that can be fun to let that out. I try not to get too serious about it, because I think that the script is so good that it affords me that.

Moderator: Those wonderful scenes in the padded cell, you must have had fun with that?

Yeah that was crazy. There's somebody here dressed in the straightjacket today, they look extraordinary.

Moderator: They all deserve to be in straightjackets.

(Andrew and the audience laugh)

They're all in straightjackets, available at the bar. But yeah, that was brilliant. That was really good because that's in Sherlock's head, so actually you could go completely nuts. That was another nuts day. All the days I've had on Sherlock have been pretty nuts.

Moderator: But isn't it interesting that Sherlock's almost dying moments it's Moriarty he thinks about, not his mother or his father or Watson.

There's an obsession between them I think. I do think there's a thin line between love and hate.

Moderator: Could you imagine the terrifying consequences if Sherlock said 'I've had enough, let's join forces.'

(Andrew laughs) Yeah, absolutely.

Audience Question 4: Hi, I have a theatre exam in a couple of weeks and I was wondering how you dealt with nerves when you do theatre and live shows?

I think the thing to remember always about nerves is that it doesn't matter, we're all going to be dead soon.

(Huge cheers and laughter from the audience)

You know, we really are. So it's that thing of going 'yeah, I might fail, I might not fail, I might do brilliantly, I might be the most famous actor in the world, I might never work again.' It doesn't matter. I think the chief pleasure of acting is play, and enjoying yourself, and that's been one of the most wonderful things about Sherlock. It's so extraordinary, days like this. I find it really incredibly moving, that something that we created and had absolutely no idea that it would be sold to 200 territories around the world and that all you guys would be so passionate about it. It came from a very noble thing that Mark and Steven created which is actual genuine passion for something, it was never a cynical exercise. They just loved the stories and had this wonderful idea, and I think the idea of success is when you can do something not cynically and not judgementally and not for financial gain, and that that's how you'll be successful. So if you're interested in your theatre exam and you're passionate about the questions they ask you, you'll answer them with passion, and if you're not passionate about them you'll fail and do something else. (Laughs) But good luck! I hope it goes really well!

(Audience applauds)

Audience Question 5: Hi, I've got two questions about your theatre work if that's ok.

Sure thing.

Audience Question 5: The short one is did you get to keep that amazing gold coat from Emperor and Galiean?

(Laughs) Oh the big long gold coat? I didn't get to keep that, no. I think that would look slightly odd offstage. Slightly ostentatious. And also with a lot of your costumes, because we're asked a lot about costumes that we wear, you really do get sick of your costumes. By the end of the theatre run you kind of want to burn them. (Moriarty voice) Burn them! (Laughs)

Audience Question 5: My longer question is about Seawall. I wanted to know, how did you switch off after that? It's one of the most gut punching plays I've ever seen, I left emotionally shaken after that.

Thanks very much. This is a one man play that I did, a beautiful play, it's actually online in a beautiful one man film by a brilliant writer named Simon Stephens. It's a half an hour, it's called Seawall. I've done it as a play at a few venues now, and it was beautiful to do but was very direct contact with the audience. I was worried it would be quite a lonely experience to do but actually it was really nice. And usually I just drink through it.

Moderator: I really suspicious of people who say they don't drink.

Yeah, well (Laughs).

Moderator: A Scotsman and an Irishman... all we need is one more and there's a joke forming.

(Audience laughs)

Audience Question 6: Hello! First of all I just wanted to say that you're a brilliant actor.

Thank you very much.

Audience Question 6: I wanted to ask you, what do you think about the relationship between Moriarty and Sherlock, do you think Moriarty really hates him or do you think he just likes having fun messing around with him, or do you think he really just wants to join forces with him?

I don't think he wants him to join forces with him because then all the fun would be over. I do think that there is an element of obsession, and as you say with any obsession there is an element of love there. And I think he admires him, deeply, and I think he's slightly envious of him perhaps as well. So all those things combined really. But no, I think he enjoys the great game.

Audience Question 7: Hello. Thank you so much for accepting the role and playing Moriarty as you're amazing. 

Thank you very much, that's very kind of you.

 Audience Question 7: What was your favourite scene to film or what one did you have the most fun on?

Well I can think of two. One of them is where I had to pretend to be Richard Brook. It's just a beautifully written scene where I need to be the actor, a scene with Kathryn Parkinson and Martin, and that was a really fun day because I got to do something completely different. But I think my favourite out of every days filming on anything was breaking into The Tower of London.

(Cheers and applause from the audience)

Yeah. It doesn't get better than that. No lines to learn, bit of dancing, bit of criminal activity, what more could you want?

Audience Question 8: I've read lots of interviews where you've said that the writing is your primary impetus to take a role, and I was just wondering out of everything that you've done is there a particular script or screenplay that was the most special to you?

Yup, probably Pride.

(Audience cheers and applauds)

It's been absolutely extraordinary today the amount of people who have mentioned Pride. I don't know if it's a film that everybody has seen but it's not often you get to have total conviction in recommending one of the films you've been in. Sometimes you promote things and you think "this isdreadful,don't see this" but Pride is the most extraordinary film and it was a beautiful, beautiful script right from the get-go. It's really about how we're much more similar to each other than we are different, and we're told an awful lot about how we're different from each other, these people are unusual, and how these people are acceptable, and so that idea of inclusiveness I really, really, really admired and it's very funny and it's about something very important and dear to my heart and dear to a lot of people's hearts. And actually it was very important because it changed my view about separating people, about the idea of gay people being different to straight people, or black people being different to white people, men being different to women, working class people different to middle class people and all that stuff. I think the most progressive thing for our society will be when we all see each other as the same.

Actually it reminded me today when we were talking, one is asked a lot in interviews with the press about fans and fandom, and the first question that is always asked is 'how many freaky fans are there? Are people really unusual and do you get stalked?' Actually, I feel very passionately that people who are fans of stuff can be extraordinarily creative. It's an outlet for people and it's about love and it's about absolute passion for something that's totally without cynicism, and something that the media could learn from. I think the idea that people can gather in a room and be really passionate about something is amazing.

(There is applause over Andrew as he finishes saying the above)          

Audience Question 9: I'm from Austria and I just wanted to say that you're amazing, such an inspiration.

Oh thank you so much.

Audience Question 9: You mentioned before there was a lot of laughter. Is there any funny behind the scenes story in particular that comes to mind?   

Oh crikey. You're putting me on the spot here. I always find acting quite embarrassing, it's a very weird thing to do. I'm trying to think if there's any stories, I know there are lots. I remember laughing with Ben, I had to say "I owe you" at one point, and I said it really stupidly one time [adopts a robotic, almost a-Dalek-on-helium voice] I. OWE. YOOOOU. And he was supposed to act back and he was like "what the f..."

(Audience laughs)

It didn't make the final cut. But you have to make an idiot of yourself if you're going to be an actor, you've got to be willing to make a fool of yourself, so there's a lot of laughing, yeah.

Moderator: Do they have the roundtable reading, where you rehearse reading when you get the scripts?

Yeah we do, we do a read through every series which is always terrifying as you've got all the executives around from the BBC, and our bosses, I see my boss looking at me there, Ms Beryl Vertue, there she is.

(Audience applause)

Yeah give a round of applause for Beryl Vertue! So yeah, the read through is always a daunting prospect.

Moderator: If you're at a read through do you try and experiment with things?

No. Absolutely not! [Laughs] You do that when all the executives aren't looking at you, judging you. You don't want to get fired on the first day.

Moderator:  So is it 'rehearse, record?'

We have a bit of time before we film for costume fittings and if there are particular scenes that might need work, and then we always rehearse it before we film, yeah.

Moderator: Now I was shot earlier by Danny Hargreaves [in the Real SFX demonstration], it was fabulous, but you put the gun to your mouth. Can you talk us through what went on that day?

That was an extraordinary day. We were going to film on the rooftop, the weather was really, really terrible, and it rained all the way through, so we did a kind of, almost with a camcorder, a very rough recording of the way it might play out, and Ben and I got a chance to look at that because the filming was postponed until a couple of weeks later. But in the interim we got a chance to see what it looked like and we both went into a deep depression about how bad our acting was. (Laughs). So we got a chance to sort of re-look at it and do all that stuff. That's an incredibly written scene, really beautiful, and the whole episode was really brilliant. So yeah, with the gun, what's there to say? I just fired it and pointed it in my mouth. It was easy. (Laughs)

Moderator: So there were health and safety guys there?

Oh yeah there's always health and safety guys, yeah. I'm working on the new James Bond film at the moment...

(Cheers from the audience) yeah that'll be a good one. There's guns aplenty there, not necessarily with my character, but it's always the same.

Moderator: When that trailer went online I foamed from every orifice. Are you allowed to say who you're playing?

I don't work on anything that I'm allowed to speak about, it's very frustrating. No, I play a character called Max Denbigh.

Moderator: There you go. It's now out in Twitterland.

No I think that's been released before. God, I hope so.


Audience Question 10: I wanted to ask, as you've said your take on Moriarty is super wacky and zany, he's kind of a lot more loveable but at the same time a lot more terrifying to people, and I just wanted to ask how much of that was your take and how much of that was scripted, and if it was mainly your interpretation, what led you  to play him that way?

I think again it's that idea of being playful, because actually sometimes it can be quite straight, some of the scenes it's quite deadpan because I think that if he is becoming too clownish the whole time you just want to keep the audience on their toes really. But any credit should go to the writing, the writing is really good and if you don't have that then you don't have the confidence to play as much as you want because if something is really well written you've got a foundation from which to go and you can do that and it can still work, you can do something else and it can still work, whereas if something is really poorly, flimsily written you can only do it one way because you're just trying to make it work, trying to make a terrible script work. So I think the credit is really to Steven and Mark and Steve Thompson.

Moderator: Did you watch the Sherlock's that you weren't in?

Oh I couldn't be bothered to watch stuff I'm not in! (Laughs) I did of course, I did. I watch them all.

Audience Question 11: My question is if you could play another character, who would you like to play?

A different character, in Sherlock? Oh that's a really good question. Probably Mrs Hudson.

(Audience laughter)

Moderator: I definitely get that motherly vibe from you.

Oh yeah, absolutely. I think that what Una does is absolutely sensational. I think that her ability to make little small scenes, what could possibly be incidental scenes, so funny and so endearing, I think she's a genius. She's a really beautiful person and a total inspiration to us all. So yeah, I'd play Mrs Hudson much worse than Una Stubbs does.

Audience Question 12: Hi I'm Sean.

Hi Sean. This is like Blind Date!

Audience Question 12: Since you've been Spectre filming and Sherlock, how does it feel to be part of two of the biggest franchises in Britain?

Really, really extraordinary. There's a certain pressure. On the first day of the Bond set I was very nervous, every line I said I kept hearing... [hums the James Bond theme]. But it's great. I can't believe that I would be associated with famous British brands like that, but here I am. I've always just sort of gone where the writing is, and worked in fringe theatre and radio, and still do, so I'll always go where the good scripts are. It's really just a happy accident.

Audience Question 13: Hi, my name is Marcia and I'm from Russia.

Hi Marcia from Russia!

Audience Question 13: I would like to ask you about the recent movie you made, Frankenstein. I would like to ask what it is like to act with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe, and how was your experience?

It was brilliant, it was a great experience. 'Victor Frankenstein' it's called now, it's directed by Paul McGuigan who directed lots of episodes of Sherlock, brilliant man. And Mark is in it, and so is Loo. I haven't seen the movie yet , but working with James and Dan was brilliant. Again I think there's a link with the theatre. Both James and Dan have worked very extensively in the theatre as well, there's something really nice about working with actors who work in the theatre because I think they have appreciation for the writing. You can't make a great film out of a bad script. If the nucleus of the script is good then it will always be good. And for that reason it attracted really good actors, y'know, James and Dan, I think they're both brilliant and again I think there's a correlation between being a nice person and being a good actor as well. They're both really, really great people.

Audience Question 13: Thank you. My friend has had to go to a photoshoot so she left me a question. 

Moderator: That's a bit cheeky!    

(Laughs) I like it, I like it, work it!

Audience Question 13: If Sherlock was filmed in Dublin, whereabouts would you like it and why?

We could do it around my parents house I suppose. I mean, that's bizarre. That question. And even more bizarre that she headed off. 'Can you just ask that question, I don't care what the answer is?' (Laughs)

Audience Question 14: How do you manage to find the balance in playing the role of Moriarty where you come across as an evil villain but still have the audience warm to you?

Moderator: Because he's a damned good actor.

It's kind of a weird question to answer, because I've been very overawed to the reaction to the character. But I think it's because I can't look at him as a villain. I can't think 'oh I'm playing a villain now, I'm going to do villain acting'. A lot of that is done by the way people respond to him, it's like when they say you can't play royalty. Everyone else has to play a sort of subservience to the king or queen or whatever, that's everyone else's responsibility in exactly the same way people's reaction to Moriarty adds power to the character. And also I think it helps me to think I'm not evil, even though my actions might be evil. I hope that answered your question.

Audience Question 15: In terms of dangerousness, who do you think is more dangerous, Charles Augustus Magnussen or your character.

James Moriarty!

(Applause and laughter)

Moderator: It's funny, Benedict was talking earlier that Moriarty is definitely more dangerous because Magnussen is just a bully.

I couldn't possibly comment on that.

Audience Question 16: Your character in the new Bond film, how is he different from Moriarty, however much you can share?

(An extended length of silence from Andrew lasting nearly twenty seconds, with the audience laughing)

Moderator: Vatican cameo.

He's got sort of, I would say, a Prince of Wales check in his suit, and all Moriarty's suits are either navy or grey.

(Audience laughter)

Audience Question 17: I read, correct me if I'm wrong, that you didn't go to drama school?

No, I didn't no.

Audience Question 17: I'm a drama student desperately trying to get into drama school. How difficult was it for you to get into the industry?

You know, if I'm honest, it wasn't all that difficult. I was very lucky. I was in a film... I went to youth theatre, which probably a lot of people do here, and I was lucky because they were looking for a sixteen year old kid to be in a film, and I got to be in a film when I was sixteen and I got an agent and that makes it all a lot easier. But what I would say to you in getting into drama school, and any kind of acting, the stuff that's the closest to my heart has been stuff that nobody has ever seen, stuff that you do with your friends even if it's an amateur thing, down the pub, if you've got your own little theatre group, the act of acting is still the same if you're in a big TV series or in a big movie or whatever. The joy of it is just being able to have fun and express yourself with other people in front of an audience. So even if it's four people watching it's a brilliant thing to do and I think what can sometimes happen is 'success as an actor is fame', and actually it's not reported so much that actually that the real buzz of it isn't all the adulation and the fame, money and wealth and all that sort of thing people talk about. The great joy of it is to act with people and to express yourself, to find out about yourself by playing other people. So if you get into drama school, fingers crossed that you do, if you don't just keep acting in whatever way you can. We're not here long and it's a great thing to do, whether you're getting paid for it or not, but good luck with it.

Moderator: Well we really aren't here long but it really has been an absolute joy.

Thank you so much everybody!