Bradbeer and actress Millie Bobby Brown on the set of the feminist-charged Netflix film ‘Enola Holmes.’ — Picture from Instagram/@enolasource
Bradbeer and actress Millie Bobby Brown on the set of the feminist-charged Netflix film ‘Enola Holmes.’ — Picture from Instagram/@enolasource

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — British film and television director Harry Bradbeer is no stranger when it comes to strong-willed and complicated female characters.

After all, he’s the director behind Fleabag and Killing Eve, two of his most-known works.

The Emmy-winning director told Malay Mail the key to making a character memorable — be it male or female — is contradictions and if the characters have things to learn.

He named the titular characters in the iconic 1991 hit Thelma & Louise on the top of his list.

“Two of my favourite characters in film are Thelma and Louise because strong is maybe one word but complicated is probably better and troubled is even better than that,” he said recently.

“And so female characters are only interesting if they go on a difficult journey and I love Thelma & Louise because you have these two people.

“One is very contained and one is very reckless, one is very careful and the other one is very spontaneous, and they go on a journey and gradually swap roles.”

Bradbeer said the film, written by Callie Khouri, remains one of the most exciting presentations of women, not to mention its famous surprise ending.

“There’s something about putting people through their hardest experience that really reveals our true mettle and whether we are truly brave or not,” he added.

Bradbeer’s take on what makes a strong female lead aptly describes his latest movie Enola Holmes, the mystery film on Nancy Springer’s book series of the same title that is currently on Netflix.

The film stars Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown as Enola, who just happens to be the teenage sister of the world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes.

After their mother goes missing, Enola suddenly finds herself under the care of her brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), both set on sending her away to a finishing school for “proper” young ladies.

Refusing to follow their wishes, she escapes to search for her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) in London.

“Her bravery, her ability to be quite rude; she isn’t always polite and well behaved — I love that,” he said.

In yet another reincarnation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless classic, Bradbeer explains why the Sherlock Holmes universe keeps being revisited in film and TV.

“There’s something iconic about Sherlock, when you have a very particular character that is so unknowable, they make the most enduring characters because we can put ourselves upon them.

The British director loves that Enola, played by Brown in the film, isn’t always polite and well behaved. — Picture courtesy of Netflix
The British director loves that Enola, played by Brown in the film, isn’t always polite and well behaved. — Picture courtesy of Netflix

“It’s like James Bond, there’s something unknowable about Bond and remains unknowable in our Sherlock that will always keep us coming back and relating to him and wondering if there is another side that we haven’t yet seen,” said Bradbeer.

London in the late 19th century where the story of Sherlock Holmes is set in, makes for an interesting period to explore.

“It’s an amazing pot of mystery and danger and darkness and Enola brings a different aspect to that.

“She brings her own feminine approach to it and her own feminine hope to it.

“I’m fascinated to see her hope and her attitude comes together with this whole dark and unrelenting London that Sherlock inhabits and see how they meet,” Bradbeer said.

So would he consider directing a Bond film?

“In a heartbeat.”