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‘Mad Men’s’ Jared Harris to Play Moriarty in ‘Sherlock Holmes 2’

Warner Bros. is set to release Guy Ritchie’s sequel on Dec. 16, 2011

"Mad Men" star Jared Harris will play the nefarious Moriarty in Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes 2," the actor's publicist has confirmed to TheWrap.

Harris' casting comes as a surprising relief, as Deal Central feared that Warner Bros. was aiming to land a bigger star who would've been the wrong fit for the film.

Brad Pitt and Daniel Day-Lewis were previously rumored to be playing Sherlock's arch-nemesis, but with the first film making $523 million worldwide, there was no need for additional "star power."

Oddly enough, Harris has shared the screen with both of those actors. He had a minor role in Day-Lewis' "The Last of the Mohicans," and has joined Pitt in "Oceans Twelve" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," in which he played Capt. Mike.

While Harris may not be as well knows as his A-list counterparts, it's refreshing to see that the best actor for the job actually earned the gig.

Harris joins Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Noomi Rapace in the sequel, which recently added Stephen Fry as Sherlock's brother Mycroft.

Russell Brand may also be in line for a role in the film, as the Daily Mail recently reported that the "Get Him to the Greek" star met with Ritchie to discuss just such an opportunity.

I'm still catching up with the first season of AMC's "Mad Men," but I happened to see this week's episode and I realized that I'd completely forgotten that Harris had joined the cast. I watched the scene where Harris' Lane Pryce gets cane-smacked twice, and found myself wondering why we don't see more of him on the big screen. Kudos to Warner Bros. then for solving this problem.

Harris famously played Andy Warhol in Mary Harron's acclaimed 1996 indie "I Shot Andy Warhol." He recently co-starred in "Extraordinary Measures" and will soon be seen in John Carpenter's "The Ward." The English actor is currently preparing to shoot Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" alongside Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy and "Sherlock Holmes" villain Mark Strong.

WB is set to release "Sherlock Holmes 2" on Dec. 16, 2011. Production is scheduled to begin later this fall.

Harris is the son of actor Richard Harris, and he is represented by Paradigm and Gateway Management Partners.

Harris' casting was first reported by Latino Review.