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Sir Kenneth Branagh’s big-screen adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery Murder on the Orient Express (out Nov. 10) has a star-studded cast, which includes Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, and Branagh himself, who plays the great detective Hercule Poirot. But the actor who inspired the most awe, particularly among her younger colleagues, was Dame Judi Dench, the Oscar-winning Royal Shakespeare Company and Bond franchise veteran who plays Princess Dragomiroff in the film.
“Everybody was very intimidated by Judi just because she is who she is,” says Gad. “At first, none of us — especially the young cast members — felt enough confidence to approach her. I broke the ice pretty quickly, though. I, of course, being the idiot that I am, went up to her on probably day three in the makeup trailer as she was reading her lines. I tapped her on the shoulder, and I said, ‘Dame Judi Dench? More like daaamn Judi Dench!’ And from that point forward, the two of us had this amazing rapport. [Laughs.] She would walk into the trailer every day and say, ‘Where is he? Where’s my love, Mr. Gad?’ That could have gone either way, by the way. That could have been the last time I ever worked on Hollywood. But I figured it was worth a shot.”