Bisexual Role Models: Jeremy Brett
So you all need to know who this brilliant man was.
Jeremy Brett, actor from 1954 to 1995. Also known as the quintessential Sherlock Holmes. He wanted to be the best Sherlock Holmes the world had ever seen, and he was.
This was no passing acting role or whim. How dedicated was he to his role?
His most treasured possession on set was his 77-page Baker Street File, which was composed of everything from Holmes’s basic mannerisms to his eating and drinking habits.
In order to get better into his role, he did what plenty of us are familiar with: he made his own headcanons—about how lonely Holmes’s college days were, how brilliant he was at sports, how he didn’t see his father until he was twelve, how his mother was so distant.
When he first got the script for the Granada series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he found it so far adapted that he went to the script editor and said, “But you’ve asked me to do Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. These aren’t Sherlock Holmes—Doyle’s stories.“ And the editor told him, “Jeremy, you’re here to act. Just get on with it.” So he tipped the table over and his fish dinner landed in the editor’s lap. And that was the beginning of their tousle.
He would take the original story—what he always referred to as ‘the canon’—with him to every filming and fight for accuracy to Doyle’s stories, to the point that Granada gave him an extra week for rehearsals. So that the first week he would fight for Doyle, and the second week he would rehearse.
Also, his nickname for Sherlock Holmes was the “damaged penguin”, and if you don’t think that’s the greatest you can get out of my face.
He was Sherlock Holmes for ten years, and made 36 hour long episodes, and five feature-length specials. And he did all this while struggling with manic-depressive disorder, cardiomyopathy, and dyslexia. He continued playing Holmes even as his heart grew to twice its normal size, his general health and appearance deteriorated, and he had such trouble breathing that he needed an oxygen mask on set.
His only comment?
“But darlings, the show must go on.”
And he was bisexual. He married Anna Massey, though they divorced four years later. After that, he entered a committed relationship with Gary Bond for seven years, part of which they lived together in Notting Hill. He was later in a romantic relationship with Paul Shenar, which lasted five years. His last publicly known relationship was his marriage to Joan Sullivan Wilson, until her death nine years later.
So next time someone gives you shit for your sexuality, you tell them the quintessential Sherlock Holmes was bisexual and he was more brilliant than they could ever hope to be.