People often ask us what it’s like to be a private investigator. They have in mind the cool swagger of Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart, the fun and glamour of Tom Sellek’s Hawaii life in Magnum P.I., or the grit of Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe. The truth is, being a private investigator is unlike any of these depictions, but there is some truth to the character profiles.
Like these characters, a good private investigator must be very resourceful, able to think outside of the box and observe what most people miss, and be able to put themselves in the shoes of their subject in order to really understand their motivation and how they think. They also must be good listeners and communicators, asking the right questions to garner trust and nab hard to get information. But it doesn’t stop there for us “modern gumshoes.” Today’s successful investigators leverage the latest surveillance technology, utilize sophisticated databases and digital sites, and understand the laws and regulations of the industry and geography in which they operate.
That said, we too love the fictional private eyes, and want to share our list of favorites.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Holmes and Watson are modern men in this contemporary adaptation of the famous Arthur Conan Doyle novels. They use technology, have chases through the streets of London, and retain the ever-present wit and intelligence of the original characters, with an off-beat and interesting twist.
Tony Shaloub as Monk. Unlike many other television detectives, Adrian Monk is not cool, in fact, he may be the epitome of geeky genius. Monk’s OCD and phobias are a source of comedy and tragedy in this unusual TV depiction of a private investigator.
Kristen Ritter as Jessica Jones. Okay. This is not your typical private eye show, but who can resist an ex-superhero dealing with the harsh reality of New York City living coupled with undeveloped super powers and PTSD, all while running a private detective agency.
Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittles in Chinatown. He’s cool, he’s good at surveillance, and he doesn’t stop until he gets all the answers; plus, it’s Jack Nicholson.
Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd as Dave and Maddie in Moonlighting. Yes, it’s fluff, but they had chemistry and the cases were quirky.