12/14/2011 04:50 pm ET

Jared Harris Of 'Sherlock Holmes' Talks Being Bad, 'Mad Men,' Richard Harris

For years, actor Jared Harris appeared in great indie movies such as "Igby Goes Down" and "Happiness." In the last couple of years, however, he's been introduced to mainstream audiences thanks to his role as Lane Pryce in "Mad Men," and his star is about to get a whole lot bigger.

In "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," opening Dec. 16, Harris takes on the role of nefarious Professor James Moriarty opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. Next year, the genial 50-year-old Brit will portray Ulysses S. Grant in the highly-anticipated film "Lincoln."

Harris chatted with The Huffington Post about working with Downey Jr. and Law, joining the cast of "Mad Men" and his father, actor Richard Harris, who passed away in 2002.

What is it like to be on "Mad Men"?

Originally, the part was a one-off episode and maybe there would be others but they weren't sure. It was that kind of thing. [Creator Matthew Weiner] very sweetly said he knew he needed someone there from London, but he really didn't know what he was going to do with that character, if anything. But I know Matt a bit and I can see the way he very carefully plots stuff out. I think he was kind in saying that; I think he knew all along what he wanted to do.

Is it funny watching women react to Jon Hamm?

(Laughs) He's a very charming man. He has that "Oh my god" factor.

You play the villain in the new "Sherlock Holmes" movie.

I do! I play the uber-villain. He's kind of the first one, really. I used to watch the original movies with my dad down in the Bahamas. We used to love watching the old Basil Rathbone movies.

What is it like working with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law?

Um, they're f***ing like Jon Hamm! Good looking, funny, talented -- it's not fair. ... They're good company. Jude does like to hang out in the makeup trailer in his long johns.

Your dad was actor Richard Harris. Your mom is an actress. Your brothers are in the business. Was it preordained you would grow up to be an actor?

No, not at all. Actually, they always thought I was going to be a lawyer or a teacher or something boring like that. I think in the end I caught [my father's] passion. We'd sit around at the table and he'd talk about plays and performances he'd seen, describing them in such great detail. You'd go, "God, wow that's amazing."

Your dad had some celebrated drinking pals.

My career's going well, but where are my Peter O'Tooles and Richard Burtons? ... It was definitely daunting getting into the same business. Less so now, but I think about what he achieved and you appreciate it as you reach different points in your own life. He was very good about it. He was very encouraging. He didn't say, "Don't do it." The only advice he gave in terms of acting was really in terms of career, about generating momentum.

Well you've got some momentum now.

On a bit of a roll. Employment is great.

Do you find your English accent charms the American ladies?

(Laughs) I've charmed one particular lady and that's good enough for me.

Wow, perfect answer!

Thank you for throwing me that one. That was like low-hanging fruit ready to be picked.