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Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is usually depicted as an older gentleman in the twilight of his career who relies on his brains — those “little grey cells” — rather than physical feats. But Kenneth Branagh is taking a slightly different approach in his depiction of the famous investigator in the actor-director’s new star-studded version of Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (out Nov. 10).
“He has a military background, he’s a former policeman, and there’s a kind of action man-quality to him,” says Branagh.
Screenwriter Michael Green (Logan, Blade Runner 2049) explains that he and Branagh decided early on that their Poirot should be a younger, and more physically able, character than we are used to seeing.
“The goal was always to remain faithful to who the character is, and what the story is, but still to try to find ways to open it up cinematically, visually, and on a character level,” says Green. “One of the earliest thoughts was to imagine Poirot not at the tail-end of his career, or even in the third act of his career, but rather a Poirot who is enjoying a certain amount of fame, but is still honing his craft. Though he might be the world’s greatest detective, he’s not the greatest detective he’ll be. That left us with the possibility of a man who still has some virility to him, still has some vitality, and isn’t afraid to climb the stairs to get to the top of the train and look out, who is perfectly capable of hitting back if someone accused tries to hit him. He may prefer not to — but he’s perfectly capable. I should add that it helps that Ken Branagh is in better shape than I am!”