Few fictional characters are as recognizable and timeless as Sherlock Holmes. The brilliant detective has been portrayed by a slew of actors in both films and television series, with the BBC's critically-acclaimed "Sherlock" drawing millions of viewers to each episode.
The British drama stars Benedict Cumberbatch, the 38-year-old actor who has most recently filled the shoes of the iconic character. Holmes has been a staple in the media since he was introduced in the 1887 novel, "A Study in Scarlett," and while his age is not mentioned in the book, he is generally played by men in their thirties and forties.
However, next summer, 75-year-old Sir Ian McKellen will step into the role, playing an aged interpretation of the classic character. The upcoming film, "Mr. Holmes," features McKellen as Sherlock, who is 93 years old. According to The Guardian, the movie will be based on the 2005 novel, "A Slight Trick of the Mind," by Mitch Cullen.
93-year-old Sherlock attempts to crack his last case
In the novel, Holmes must face challenges that extend far beyond solving the latest mystery - the aging protagonist is described as suffering from physical and cognitive decline brought about by old age, including a weak memory and the need to use a cane. McKellen will portray the character, who becomes obsessed with solving one last case while he still can. The senior noted that while younger actors - including Robert Downey Jr. and Jonny Lee Miller - have played Holmes in the past, he was proud to portray the detective as an aging adult.
"Over 70 actors have previously played Sherlock Holmes," McKellen tweeted. "Now he's 93 years old and it's my turn."
The 75-year-old also tweeted an image of himself as the timeless icon, donning a dark gray fedora and black overcoat. McKellen joins Golden Globe-winning actress Laura Linney, who will play Holmes' live-in housekeeper.
McKellen remains active at 75
While McKellen is close to 20 years younger than the character he's portraying, the silver screen icon has not let his age restrict his acting roles. This summer, he revived his comic book character Magneto in the blockbuster "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Additionally, McKellen has played roles in several action films, portraying strong and influential characters over the age of 65. In the movie adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" series, he played the wizard Gandalf, who served as an important figure throughout all six accompanying films.
In addition to his time on-screen, the 75-year-old is an avid human rights activist. After the actor revealed to the public in 1988 that he was gay, he has contributed time, funds and resources to improving the lives of LGBTQ youth and adults. Along with 20 other men and women who were active in gay politics, McKellen founded the nonprofit Stonewall U.K. in 1988. The organization has been influential in affecting laws and policies pertaining to civil and human rights. McKellen is equally passionate about supporting organizations that provide resources to people who want to break into the arts. Seniors living in retirement communities have the opportunity to volunteer time to worthy causes tailored to their individual interests.