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Guy Ritchie hopes hard work pays off with 'Holmes'

The Associated Press, Tuesday, December 22, 2009, 3:30am (PST)

LONDON (AP) -- All in all, Guy Ritchie has had a pretty good 2009. He had a blast making his big-budget thriller "Sherlock Holmes," stayed focused on his work — and avoided coverage of the fallout from his split with Madonna.

"I haven't read the papers for so long now," said Ritchie. "I don't watch TV.

"Head down, arms swinging — I've been like that for a couple of years now."

The British filmmaker and the queen of pop divorced in November 2008, eight years after they wed in a Scottish castle and became darlings of the tabloid press.

Fortunately, Ritchie, 41, had plenty to distract him from the inevitable media frenzy. He spent the year finishing "Holmes," which stars Robert Downey Jr. as the Victorian sleuth and Jude Law as trusty sidekick Dr. Watson. The film opens around the world this week.

Ritchie said he enjoyed making the film "more than anything I've worked on before" — largely due to the presence of Law and Downey. The three are now firm friends

"They are very creative," Ritchie said. "I always felt whilst we were making it that we were making something that was a collaboration, a collection of creative ideas."

"Sherlock Holmes" gave Ritchie his biggest budget to date — a reported $80 million — after smaller-scale Brit gangster flicks like "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," "Snatch" and "RocknRolla."

Ritchie, a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories since childhood, said "it seemed like a natural progression to go from what I'd done previously to something that was iconic and English but at the same time had the deep pockets of Hollywood."

If the film fares well, sequels are in the offing — and that would make Ritchie very happy.

"Work comes first. It's primary, not secondary," he said.

"Making films is like a fantasy, and the older I get the more of a fantasy it seems to become. So I feel very lucky to be part of something like this."

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