How Toby Jones created his “genuinely scary” Sherlock villain

And how the actor was taken aback by the fan reaction to his casting…

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In the run-up to the hotly-anticipated fourth series of Sherlock next month, a lot of attention has fallen on a newcomer to the cast – film and TV star Toby Jones, who is set to play a “disgusting” villain called Culverton Smith.

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Although little is known about Jones’s role, creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, producer Sue Vertue and star Amanda Abbington have opened up on the actor’s method for creating such a uniquely terrible villain – and the awkwardness that ensued on set while he did it.

“He’s lovely, Toby, he’s a very very funny man,” Moffat told the audience at a special Bafta Cymru Sherlock celebration event. “And genuinely scary.

“He would get into the mode of being genuinely scary… and he is terrifying. But then he wouldn’t really want to talk to anybody while he was in that mode.

“He’d get in that mode, and he’d do something really diabolical and disgusting in the story, and then he’d storm off set, and go over into a corner and sit like that,” Moffat said, while hunching over with his hands out, “staying disgusting.”

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Toby Jones as Culverton Smith in Sherlock

And of course, this ended up causing a few strange interactions with his fellow castmates…

“I made the mistake of asking him for a coffee, I wanted a coffee, and he didn’t answer me,” Abbington recalled.

“And I thought ‘Ooh, I’ve offended him!’ But actually he’s very… well not very method, but he kind of likes to stay in character, and it’s great because you stay well away from him, because he is truly terrifying.”

“That makes him sound weird… he’s not really!” Moffat added, before joking: “But he does kill people to keep in character. Nobody really important.”

The team also revealed that Jones has been somewhat taken aback by the attention he’s received since joining the series, with many fans approaching him with excitement before they’ve even seen him in an episode.

“I saw him when we were doing ADR (Automated dialogue replacement), and I hadn’t seen him since we shot the episode,” Gatiss said. “And he said, ‘Something’s happened… this show is a phenomenon, isn’t it?’”

“He was slightly shell-shocked, wasn’t he?” suggested Vertue.

“Yeah, he was like ‘I had no idea,’” Gatiss agreed.

“He was getting so much attention from all around the world just by being in it. Quite frightening, really.”

Sounds like lots of scared people all round – and here we thought 2017 might be less harrowing than 2016. Oh well.

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Sherlock returns to BBC1 on New Year’s Day at 8:30pm

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