Actor-director reveals all about his character's distinctive look

By Clark Collis
November 07, 2017 at 11:01 AM EST

In Kenneth Branagh’s whodunnit Murder on the Orient Express (out Nov. 10) the actor-director’s genius detective Hercule Poirot has the kind of extravagant moustache you could spot from a passing train — and maybe even from space.

“Everything to do with moustache, which was designed by a wonderful makeup artist called Carol Hemming, was precise,” says Branagh, whose film costars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley, among others. “The tip of the moustache had to be this many inches from the ear lobe, this many inches up from the chin-line, this close to the nose. There was a series of strings, and rulers, and everything, that were put all over my face every time the moustache went on that were absolutely Poirot-ian in their fastidiousness.”

And exactly how long did all of that take?

“We were getting the moustache down to a very workable figure,” says the filmmaker. “Because I was so busy, we really had to ultimately get the whole thing down to about an hour. There was one crazy day when a moustache had to come on, and go off, and I think we did something like 17 minutes.”

Branagh believes it was ultimately worth the time and effort required to sport his fastidious character’s most distinctive facial feature.

“In a way, the act of putting the moustache on, was the process of becoming Poirot,” he says. “We became so anal about how foursquare, perfect, symmetrical he would want it and that we therefore had to make it. Everybody became as particular as Hercule himself. In a way, the secret is in the moustache, because as soon as you start getting as concerned about it as he did, somehow everything else opened up, and you’d entered the world of Poirot. It was like his superpower!”

Watch the trailer for Murder on the Orient Express, above.