Andrew Scott Asked For His Own Lines To Be Cut While Playing Sherlock's Moriarty

Before Andrew Scott became known for being the Internet's "hot priest," he was the resident pain-in-the-ass on BBC's "Sherlock." 

Scott portrayed Jim Moriarty, a sadistic, psychopathic individual with Machiavellian traits and a penchant for pissing off the world-famous fictional detective. During the antagonist's occasional appearances in the series, Scott displayed his character's depravity and bone-chilling hatred for Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock; his performance highlighted their twisted rivalry and made it stand out unlike any Sherlock Holmes adaptation had done before. The on-screen criminal was conniving and evil; his lack of ethics made him vastly unpredictable, making him a formidable enemy for the detective. He's also profoundly mysterious and has a spooky aura about him — that Scott helped devise.

Knowledge is power

Andrew Scott knows that part of what made Jim Moriarty so intimidating was how little Sherlock knew about him. Scott wanted his character to hold power, and often asked the team behind the BBC series to cut his lines. Moriarty was a man of few words, and when he did say anything, it felt alarming, the actor shared during an interview with Vanity Fair.

The actor described how people often rely heavily on their instincts to determine how they discern others in their surroundings. Any form of suspicion or fear in our minds has to do with uncertainty and fear of the unknown. A lot goes into making an antagonist terrifying — and most times, it's because they have an inconsistent nature. We only know what they allow us to learn about them, which makes them so terrifying.

"I think sometimes what's frightening about people in real life, or why we get scared of people on the street, or we get suspicious of people, is because we don't know about them, actually. It's because we don't know their backstory, because the information we have about people is power, and it allows us to go, "Okay. I know what the lay of the land is with that person." But actually, if you don't know about that person and there's a mysteriousness to that person, it makes them a little bit more frightening because you don't have that knowledge at hand."

Less is more

Scott explained that in Moriarty, "doing less rather than getting more" helped him deliver a convincing performance. Knowledge was power, so saying little during his appearances on "Sherlock" helped his character retain his mysterious personality.

"A lot of the time, I remember asking for my lines to be cut so that I would say less, so that you don't give your power away, so that it's all the more alarming if it just comes out of nowhere."

The actor found it straightforward to play the antagonist despite Moriarty being a dark character. The role came naturally to him, so much so, that Scott was able to frighten people during the audition. The BBC series showcased Moriarty's unyielding obsession with the consulting detective throughout multiple cases and crimes, and Cumberbatch and Scott's on-screen chemistry along with their constant battle of wits made "Sherlock" a memorable modern adaptation.