“My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the greatest detective in the world,” says Kenneth Branagh at the end of the official trailer for “Murder on the Orient Express,” which 20th Century Fox released on Thursday, June 1 (watch above). Poirot is the famous Belgian detective from the mystery novels of Agatha Christie, and “Orient Express” is arguably her most famous work. But if anyone could be entrusted with this iconic work of fiction, it’s Branagh.
This is not Branagh’s first time playing a famous literary detective. He earned an Emmy nomination in 2009 for playing Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in the “Wallander” TV mysteries on PBS. Branagh is also the director of “Orient Express,” and he knows his way around a literary adaptation as well. He has directed film versions of everything from Shakespeare (“Hamlet,” “Henry V”) to fairy tales (Disney’s live-action “Cinderella” in 2015) to comic books (Marvel’s “Thor”). He’s such a Renaissance man in front of and behind the camera that he has earned five Oscar nominations, but he has never been nominated in the same category twice: Best Director (“Henry V,” 1989), Best Actor (“Henry V,” 1989), Best Live-Action Short (“Swan Song,” 1992), Best Adapted Screenplay (“Hamlet,” 1996) and Best Supporting Actor (“My Week with Marilyn,” 2011).
Perhaps 20th Century Fox is hoping to earn him repeat nominations for directing and acting because they’ve scheduled “Orient Express” for release on the awards-friendly date of November 10, and they have populated the film with a pedigreed cast of murder suspects, including Oscar winners Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz; Oscar nominees Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, and Michelle Pfeiffer; Emmy winner Derek Jacobi; Emmy nominee Olivia Colman; Tony winner Leslie Odom; Tony nominee Josh Gad; and recent “Star Wars” breakout Daisy Ridley.
The first adaptation of the 1934 novel was the Sidney Lumet 1974 film that featured an equally starry cast. The critically acclaimed box office smash was nominated for six Oscars — Best Actor (Albert Finney), Best Supporting Actress (Ingrid Bergman), Best Adapted Screenplay (Paul Dehn), Best Cinematography (Geoffrey Unsworth), Best Original Score (Richard Rodney Bennett), and Best Costume Design (Tony Walton). In the film’s only win, Bergman earned her third Oscar for her performance in the film as the missionary; Cruz is playing that part this time around.
Are you excited to meet these strangers on a train in November? Check out the trailer above and discuss this and more with your fellow movie fans in our forums.