Kenneth Branagh is a top notch director and it seems he is assembling quite the cast for his upcoming project, Murder on the Orient Express, an adaptation of the popular Agatha Christie novel of the same name. And despite having Angelina Jolie recently pull out of the project, the cast list remains impressive,with Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Michael Pena and Judi Dench all in supporting roles.
However what the film did need after Jolie pulled out, is another big name star (its incredible to think that Pfeiffer, or Dench are not considered one) and according to Deadline, it looks like they have secured that in none other than Johnny Depp. You needed to only watch last year’s Black Mass to be reminded of just how good and versatile an actor Depp is, but even I was surprised that he is taking on this role, considering it is quite ‘normal’ for him by comparison. Last I checked, the novel didn’t include any characters that require lots of make-up or wear strange hats (though I have no doubt, he will be wearing a hat).
Depp will be taking on the role of Ratchett with Branagh himself taking on the lead role of detective Hercule Poirot. The screenplay for the film is being written by Blade Runner 2 writer Michael Green.
This is not the first adaptation of the popular novel, with Sidney Lumet adapting the novel in the excellent 1974 movie which starred a then top notch cast as well of Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Perkins and Wendy Hiller. The novel was also adapted in 2001 in a made for TV film, but with a much smaller cast and not as well received. With Branagh’s influence and love of literature, I have no doubt this film will be closer to the novel, like Lumet’s version.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the source material (shame on you), Murder on the Orient Express was first published in 1934 and tells of the intrigue that begins after an American businessman is murdered aboard the famed train. Poirot tries to unravel the mystery and figure out which one of the mysterious passengers on the train committed it. So, like Clue, except only with a great script and amazing characters.
If you have time to kill, you can also read the full press release below, which details which actors have been cast in the different roles:
An all-star cast, led by Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Daisy Ridley, is joining director Kenneth Branagh on 20th Century Fox’s new feature film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s acclaimed mystery Murder on the Orient Express, it was announced today by TCF president Emma Watts.
In addition to directing the film, Branagh, a five-time Academy Award®-nominee, will star as detective Hercule Poirot. Depp portrays Ratchett; Pfeiffer is Mrs. Hubbard and Ridley plays Mary Debenham.
Oscar winner Judi Dench portrays Princess Dragomiroff, while Lucy Boynton is Countess Andrenyi. Tom Bateman plays Bouc, acclaimed stage actor and Tony winner Derek Jacobi portrays Masterman, Michael Peņa is Marquez, and Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. plays Doctor Arbuthnot. The ensemble is nearly complete, but there are still a few key roles left to cast.
Murder on the Orient Express begins production in November, in London.
Commented Kenneth Branagh: “Christie’s ‘Murder’ is mysterious, compelling and unsettling. I’m honoured to have this fantastic group of actors bring these dark materials to life for a new audience”.
Ridley Scott (The Martian), Simon Kinberg (The Martian, X-Men: Days of Future Past), Mark Gordon (Steve Jobs) and Branagh will produce the film. Michael Schaefer, Aditya Sood and Judy Hofflund will also produce. Michael Green (Blade Runner 2) wrote the screenplay, with Steve Asbell overseeing the production for Fox.
Agatha Christie’s novel, published in 1934, is considered one of the most ingenious stories ever devised. It revolves around a murder onboard the famous train, and Belgian detective Hercule Poirot must solve the case – but there are a number of passengers who could potentially be the murderer.
James Prichard and Hilary Strong, both of Agatha Christie Ltd., will executive produce.
Prichard commented: “It is always thrilling for us to see the stellar casting that Agatha Christie film adaptations attract. It is fantastic to have Kenneth Branagh at the helm of this new adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express and we are extremely excited about the cast he is bringing aboard”
Last Updated: October 3, 2016