David Suchet Q&A: ‘Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case’

David Suchet played Agatha Christie's classic character Hercule Poirot on television for an astounding quarter of a century. However, he has only become eligible to contend at the Emmys for his farewell performance as the Belgian detective in the telefilm, "Agatha Christie's Poirot: Curtain, Poirot's Last Case." In our recent video chat, this celebrated English actor explained how Acorn TV made this possible. The streaming service, which specializes in programming from across the pond, stepped in to co-produce for the first time to ensure this final installment in the franchise reached US audiences.

Suchet recounts his surprising first encounter with Poirot, which came in a 1985 TV version of Christie's "13 at Dinner." As he tells it, he was playing another part, Inspector Japp, while Peter Ustinov was reprising his role as the celebrated crime-solver. "I remember thinking what a wonderful character he is playing. I wouldn't mind a go at this one day, never for one moment imaginging it would come my way."  

He did get that chance when he was offered the lead in a series of hour-long adaptations of Christie's short stories that first aired in 1989. The actor explains his method of inhabiting this well-known character. "I would go back to her stories. My impression had been that Poirot was a bit of a joke, a caricature, someone to be laughed at. I discovered when I began reading the short stories and the novels a character I had never seen before, more dimensions, someone I could smile with because he was eccentric, but he was not a fool." 

There were four seasons of this anthology series, with production of the first three of the feature-length versions of her novels coming before the last of these. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, almost all of the other 33 novels were brought to life. But following the broadcast of "The Clocks" in 2011, American fans were left waiting until Acorn stepped in and ensure the final three whodunits would be available stateside.

Over the years, Suchet, a classically trained actor, made the part of Poirot his own. For his Herculean efforts, he was feted with a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Television Society. And while "Curtain" represents his final performance as Poirot, his indelible portrait of this unlikely detective will be one for the ages. Indeed, all 13 seasons of the show are available for streaming on Acorn. And Acorn is making this final installment available to all TV academy voters via a website. It offers a hassle-free way (no ID, no password required) to watch this top-notch telefilm. 

"Curtain" raises with the welcome return of Poirot's pal Captain Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser) and brings them back to Styles, the country manor at which they solved their first crime. This time around, Poirot must confront his own desires to bring a killer to justice no matter what the cost. Suchet admits the final scene offered the actor a unique opportunity to say farewell to the role after 25 years.

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UPLOADED May 22, 2015 11:42 am