- Moriarty: The Silent Order is the second season of the mystery series that follows the protagonist Professor Moriarty and his unlikely partnership with Sherlock Holmes.
- The show features talented actors such as Dominic Monaghan, Phil LaMarr, and Helen Mirren, who bring the characters to life through their voice acting.
- Fans of Sherlock Holmes will appreciate the unique audio format of the show, allowing them to use their imagination to create the world and characters, while staying true to the original text of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Moriarty: The Silent Order marks the second season of the mystery series, following last year’s Moriarty: The Devil’s Game. The Audible Original follows protagonist Professor Moriarty, who this season is forced to team up with his bitter rival Sherlock Holmes. The show stars The Lord of the Rings‘ Dominic Monaghan as Moriarty, Phil LaMarr (known for his work on shows like Mad TV and Futurama) as Sherlock, and the iconic Dame Helen Mirren as Lady Milverton.
The first season of the critically-acclaimed audio drama centered on the titular character’s quest to prove his innocence after the murder of his fiancée Rose. Over the course of the season, an elaborate scheme was revealed to frame Moriarty for the crime in order to steal his equation, orchestrated by Porlock – the alias of Shelock’s brother, Mycroft Holmes. This season will force Sherlock and Moriarty onto the same side as they work to take down a new shadowy operation led by Lady Milverton.
Screen Rant interviewed Dominic Monaghan and Phil LaMarr at a special Sherlock-themed event to discuss the recording process, working with Helen Mirren, and their favorite things about the original Arthur Conan Doyle novels.
Dominic Monaghan & Phil LaMarr Talk Moriarty: The Silent Order
Screen Rant: First, I would just love to know a little bit about how you feel like your work on this show differed from past voice acting experience. Does the way you approach your acting change when there’s no visual component to it?
Phil LaMarr: No. Because obviously for playing Sherlock Holmes, I had a very strong Basil Rathbone image in my head, I’m like, “Should I sound like Basil Rathbone?” But more importantly, it’s about playing this story version of Sherlock. Now, I don’t remember who played Moriarty on camera. Do you?
Dominic Monaghan: There’s been a few.
Phil LaMarr: I’m sure several.
Dominic Monaghan: But I agree with you. I think you have to kind of do your own thing. It’s an Audible Original project, and I think there’s like a clue in the title. Even though the written work by Arthur Conan Doyle goes way back, in terms of a new understanding of it, you have to make it your own. Otherwise you’re kind of biting a previous person’s style. And as an actor, you can’t really do that.
Phil LaMarr: Yeah, they didn’t hire us to do impressions.
Dominic Monaghan: Right, right.
Phil LaMarr: They hired us to play these characters. It’s like when someone plays Hamlet, they don’t go, “Give me a tape of Olivier doing it, and I’ll copy that.” No, that’s not how you do your best performance.
Dominic Monaghan: Yeah, you’re going to make a mess of it if you do that.
What is that process like, carving out your own version of these characters when they’ve been done before and making them feel distinct?
Dominic Monaghan: Well, I go back to the original text, which is helpful. So reading as much as you can of what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle says about the character or has the character speak is important. And then just in terms of tiny little mechanics, when I play Moriarty in the sound stage, I tend to wear slightly constricting clothes. So I might wear a tracksuit top that’s zipped all the way up because I kind of want Moriarty to feel a little boxed in.
Because in his life, he’s boxed in and in his head, he’s boxed in and he’s paranoid and he doesn’t know where the next attack is coming from. That helps. And then again, hot tea and lots of water and those kinds of things just to help your voice is helpful. And then having other people do great performances around you is always helpful to me.
Phil LaMarr: Exactly. That’s brilliant. The idea of figuring out how to generate the feeling that you want to express from the character, like that idea that he was in a box, but also that he’s very intelligent. Because that’s the thing, you look at the script and you figure out what the character is feeling, what he’s going through and what he’s expressing. And for instance, someone like Moriarty, for someone like Holmes, [in vapid society accent] we don’t just do our dumb voice because we know both of these guys are kind of smart. So you don’t go and do s*** like [in exaggerated british accent], “I talk like this”.
I kind of like that one.
Dominic Monaghan: Yeah, that’ll be the B side. [Laughs] Also, one of the fascinating things about this project and about Holmes and Moriarty is they are kind of two sides of the same coin. They would really actually find a lot in common if they weren’t going against each other. Like Phil said, highly intelligent, paranoid. They have problems dealing with humans. They’re great with solving crimes. They’re great with statistics and numbers, and if they could only get out of their own way, they’d probably be great friends. Because they’re very similar.
Phil LaMarr: Yes. I can’t wait for season three when Sherlock becomes friends with Moriarty and says, “Well, you had that lovely lady. Does she have a sister?” [Laughs]
Dominic Monaghan: [Laughs] Yeah, the human thing is one of the major things that they just can’t figure out. There’s so many aspects of their life that you could objectively say, “Oh, they’re doing that.” And unfortunately, they can’t figure out how to directly connect with other humans, whether it’s male or female. I think you could make a strong argument to say that they’re probably both on the spectrum, but I don’t think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had an understanding of the spectrum back then, but I think they’re both in that arena.
Phil LaMarr: Yes, yes.
And you talked about working beside other really great performers. What was it like working with Helen Mirren?
Dominic Monaghan: Well, unfortunately, I had to finish all of my stuff and go do a show whilst Helen Mirren was being locked in. So I was in the sound stage hearing about, “Oh, we’re getting close, and she’s reading it and she likes it and we’re making an offer.” But unfortunately, by the time I had finished, I had to go and do another show, and then Helen Mirren came in. But we were all delighted that she got involved, and she’s fantastic in a lot of different ways, but one of the great things about Dame Helen Mirren is that powerful voice that she has.
Phil LaMarr: Yes.
Dominic Monaghan: Brilliant for this project.
Phil LaMarr: Yes. It would’ve been amazing to be able to get to record with her, but all three of us had many scenes separate from each other. So it wasn’t a terrible thing to not be able to record together, I feel like we still got our performances. But now once the story brings all of our performances together, that’s a blessing as well.
Are there any scenes that stand out to you as especially challenging or funny to record?
Dominic Monaghan: Well, my favorites are when Sherlock and Moriarty are together, because in the books it rarely happens, but when it does happen, it for me is the most exciting part of reading it. Because it’s like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader getting together. They don’t do it that much, but when they do it, you’re like, “This is why I’m watching!”
So in both projects, in the book and this here, when they’re both next to each other, anything could happen. So I think when we’re escaping from the cell and the explosives and all that kind of stuff, it’s very kind of swashbuckling and exciting. But at the same time, they’re both doing a little bit of one-upmanship: “Oh, you made a mistake there. Oh no, I did that on purpose. No, I did it again.” I like the kind of repartee that they have with each other. So those are my favorites.
Phil LaMarr: For sure. Yeah, those action scenes together were the ones that stand out to me. But that’s funny if it was like, “Bruv, I am your father.” [Laughs] That’s not happening; no, no, those scenes don’t exist.
Dominic Monaghan: Yeah, that’s on the cutting room floor. [Laughs]
What do you guys feel like long-term fans of the Sherlock Holmes series as a whole will really appreciate about this new season?
Phil LaMarr: Because it is taking the characters that they know and exist in their hearts and taking them to a whole new world. So that’s like watching a Rocky movie, but seeing Rocky in space, it’s like, “Wow!”
Dominic Monaghan: Yeah, they’re beloved. Obviously there’s a reason why they’re enduring, the characters, specifically Sherlock. But also Sherlock through the years has dragged Moriarty through, and there’s a reason why Moriarty has endured as well. They are beloved. They’re complicated, complex characters. And like Phil said, if you love this world, you kind of want to get it in any way that you can get it.
And I love the fact that in this, even though they can obviously see Phil and they can see Helen and myself, outside of that, you are creating the pipe, you’re creating the hat, you are creating the crime scene and the clues, and it allows the listener to really play with their imagination and really push it as far as they want.
Phil LaMarr: Absolutely. Yes. That’s the wonderful aspect of audio series, is that it brings in imagination onto the story. You hear things in your head and you create the images in your head.
Because of that, do you think if this was taken to live action, it would lose something from gaining that visual component if the imagination part is taken away?
Dominic Monaghan: It definitely changes something, and what’s clear with Audible and Treefort who are the partners that made the show, is that they love the world of Sherlock Holmes, they love Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, and they’re very precious and careful about how it’s treated. So at the moment, it’s quite contained because it’s our voices and some aspect of the audio world is created, but not that much else. If it were to get built out into a TV show, you’d have to be very mindful of staying true to what the listener has been hearing for however many years.
Phil LaMarr: Good point.
Dominic Monaghan: But they do care, they do care about the characters. They care about the world. When I was a kid, we used to live in Germany, and we used to take road trips to see our extended family in Manchester from Dusseldorf when we were kids, and it was about a two day drive from Germany to England, and this is pre-internet, obviously. And all we had in our car was stories by cassette, and we would listen to The Hobbit, or we would listen to Lord of the Rings, or we would listen to Sherlock Holmes, or we would listen to Aladdin, and it was so strong.
I remember almost falling asleep in the back of my mom and dad’s Volvo, and they were doing Alibaba and the 40 Thieves, and I could see Alibaba, and I could see the Genie, and I could see them running through the streets of Persia, old Persia and stuff. So it does become very precious in your mind, and you do have to be mindful that the people that we have who are hardcore listeners of this need to agree on the world that they now see visually as opposed to just –
Phil LaMarr: Yes. But it’s not that one is worse or better than the other. Like Harry Potter – that started as books, but those movies are very good. So it’s just you take it in differently. That’s the only thing that’s different.
And you mentioned going back to the text of Arthur Conan Doyle. Do you guys have a favorite story?
Dominic Monaghan: I think it’s so cheesy, but I think there’s a reason why it tends to be loved. And it’s the same for me. It’s the hound of the Baskervilles, because it’s just – you set it on the moors and you’ve got the mist, and then you’ve got this mythological creature that at first they’re like, “It’s half-wolf and a half a horse, and it comes from the devil, it comes from the underground.”
And then Holmes comes in and he’s like, “It’s got nothing to do with mythology. This is an actual creature. I’m a scientist. I’m going to work with facts here.” But then he kind of gets spooked at the same time. You see a wisp of it and you’re not quite sure what it is. The way that that story unfolds is incredible. And obviously Holmes and Watson get hurt, and they’re in harm’s way by the end of it. So that’s the one that stands out for me.
Phil LaMarr: That’s true. Yeah, because I love all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but you’re right, Baskerville steps out because it creates a different image of Holmes. It’s like he’s not on Baker Street.
Dominic Monaghan: He’s out of his element, he gets spooked. When he first shows up he’s like, “It’s so wolf. Don’t be so silly.” And then he catches a few glimpses of it and he’s like, “We’re in trouble.” So it’s great.
Moriarty: The Silent Order is available now on Audible.