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'Mr. Holmes': Ian McKellan takes on the role of the famous detective

'The Hobbit' actor McKellan portrays the famous British sleuth in the upcoming film 'Holmes.' The movie co-stars Laura Linney and Hiroyuki Sanada.

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    'Mr. Holmes' stars Ian McKellan.
    Courtesy of Giles Keyte/Miramax and Roadside Attractions
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Actor Ian McKellan is taking on an iconic literary character with the upcoming film “Mr. Holmes.” 

“Holmes,” which hits theaters on July 17, catches up with famous detective Sherlock when he’s in his 90s. He’s retired and living with his housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son (Milo Parker). Sherlock is having problems with his memory and is trying to remember what happened with one of his last cases.

The film is directed by Bill Condon of “The Fifth Estate” and co-stars Hiroyuki Sanada, Patrick Kennedy, and Hattie Morahan.

“Holmes,” which looks from its trailer like a sedate drama, is a far cry from, for example, the 2009 movie “Sherlock Holmes” which starred Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Sherlock and Watson and was filled with action scenes. The cause of this could be twofold. For one, while Sherlock never really disappeared from the public’s memory, younger audiences may be more acquainted with the detective following the 2009 movie and the hit British series “Sherlock,” which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Watson. Now that audiences’ memories have been refreshed and new affection for the character may be present, a new film can center on an older Sherlock, something that would otherwise seem like an unsure bet to youth-centric Hollywood.

In addition, this movie may be benefiting from the effect of such films as “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” “Marigold,” which was released in 2012 and centered on a group of senior citizens voyaging to India, became an unexpected hit, enough to greenlight the sequel which was released earlier this year. In the meantime, movies with older action stars like Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington have also done well at the box office. While Hollywood is still investing in far more movies with younger casts, the popularity of reboots means that older stars are coming back to reprise their old roles, resulting in a more multi-generational feel in big blockbusters. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger returned for “Terminator Genisys” along younger stars Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, and Jai Courtney, while original “Star Wars” actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill are returning for the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens” and Sylvester Stallone is starring in the new “Rocky” movie “Creed.” McKellen himself has a starring role in the “X-Men” franchise as an older version of villain Magneto, the younger version of which is portrayed by Michael Fassbender.

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