Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Amanda Abbington.

chat room

Sherlock’s Amanda Abbington on the Finale, Mary’s Big Secret, and Drunk Martin Freeman

[Spoilers ahead.] We’re all back on Team Mary, right? Right. Good. Sunday’s season-three finale of Sherlock revealed Mrs. John Watson to be a former assassin who duped John and almost killed Sherlock. But it was all for love! And it’s not like John’s not a killer. So when these crazy kids decided that they could get past a few dead bodies and get back to starting their family, it was warm fuzzies all over. Amanda Abbington, who plays Mary and is the longtime sweetheart of Martin Freeman, spoke with Vulture about being kept in the dark when it came to her character’s bloody history, and why Sherlock and John’s stag night is her favorite thing ever.

And now we know John and Mary really are made for each other. They love Sherlock, and they’re both killers.
Did you expect it?

No, but I’m slow.
No, no. The general consensus was that people didn’t know. Actually, a lot of them thought the gunman was going to be Irene Adler.

That would have been fun, too. But finding out that Mary’s got this big secret makes it so much more devastating for John. Did you know anything in advance?
No! I did the first two episodes not knowing. [Executive producers] Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss just kept saying, “She’s got a secret.” And then Martin and I got the third script and we read it together in the sitting room and when we got to that page we were like, “Noooooooo! She kills him!” And then later, “Ah, no, she hasn’t killed him. She’s just maimed him. Excellent.” Apparently, I used James Bond’s gun for that. Lee, our firearms man, told me it’s the gun Daniel Craig used in Skyfall.

You guys reused it?
Well, I hope that’s true and he wasn’t just taking the mickey out of me. Lee swore it was true. So many people hated me the second I pulled the trigger. They really did. But then she’s redeemed.

Oh yeah. I was talking to my TV. “C’mon. Forgive her, John.”
[Laughs.] And you have to remember that Sherlock left John for two years and then just came back and expected everything to be all right. John shoots people. He shot the psycho cabbie in episode one, and that was fine. He beat up a crack addict, and that was fine. So, Mary fits in really well with those two. They’re all psychopaths.

It makes so much sense that she immediately got along with Sherlock.
It would have been really boring had it been an “I don’t like Sherlock” sort of thing between them, like if she were that kind of girlfriend. The fact that she loves him and finds him funny, and knows when he’s fibbing and knows when he’s being cheeky, it’s just lovely. She’s not fazed by either of those boys.

So what did you say to Steven and Mark after you read the twist?
I texted them, “You bastards.” It was brilliant. I was so happy.

I feel like Steven lives for people saying, “You bastard” to him in that way.
He does. He loves that. That’s why he brought Moriarty back after he said in interviews, “Moriarty’s dead, okay? He’s dead.” And here’s Moriarty in the finale saying, “I’m back. Did you miss me?”

How did you get cast?
I was sitting around the kitchen table at Mark Gatiss’s house one day, and he and Steven asked if I’d like to play her. I was honored, I really was. Slight nepotism, but I’ve been working for so many years now that I think that’s fine. You can have a bit of nepotism now and again. And it’s such a joy working with him, Martin. He does every take differently, so you can really play.

What did you think of Sherlock and John’s stag night?
I loved it. It’s like Martin being drunk.

Really? So it felt familiar.
Oh yeah. He did stuff in those scenes that he does at home, or when he’s mucking about. Like in the episode when someone says “Mr. Holmes” and he points at Sherlock and whistles, that’s my favorite bit. Martin does that a lot. Martin and Ben bounce off each other so beautifully, they just do.

Martin told me you made him take the job he's currently filming, FX's reimagining of Fargo.
I did! I didn’t think he should go away for longer than two months after doing The Hobbit in New Zealand, but then I thought he had to do this. It’s an amazing character, and the Coen brothers are onboard. It’s also got Bob Odenkirk, who I just adore. The children and I are going out to visit at the end of February and I’m desperate to meet him. I’ve got a T-shirt that says “Better call Saul” on it. And Bob follows me on Twitter now. It’s my claim to fame.

Do you think John and Mary will be good parents?
On the one hand, they’d probably be reckless because they’re both quite psychopathic. But I think an assassin and an army doctor who loves trouble, I mean, that kid has got nothing to worry about. Screwed up mentally, of course, but if there’s any bullying on the playground, we’re covered.

Will Mary be back next season?
I am coming back, but I don’t know in what capacity. We don’t know story lines yet. Well, we do know some things but aren’t allowed to say. What we do know is amazing.

Photo: Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films