A chorus of big names are reportedly set to join Fox’s upcoming adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery mainstay Murder on the Orient Express. Kenneth Branagh is directing and starring in the Fox picture as Detective Hercule Poirot from a screenplay penned by Blade Runner 2 writer Michael Green. Deadline was the first to report that Johnny Depp, last seen on screen in Alice Through the Looking Glass, appears in talks to join the film while The Hollywood Reporter snapped the exclusive that Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Michael Pena and Judi Dench are also looking to board the famed whodunit.
Based on the famed Christie mystery (first published in 1934), the film centers around a the unfolding mystery of who killed an American businessman aboard the famed European train; Detective Poirot is on the case as the gallery of suspects includes a colorful cast of characters. Murder on the Orient Express was filmed, famously, back in 1974 under the direction of Sidney Lumet (Network) – that particular adaptation showcased the talents of luminaries including Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, John Gielgud and won Ingrid Bergman an Academy Award.
In this iteration, it looks like Depp will be portraying Ratchett, the man who is murdered (Richard Widmark played that character in the 1974 version), while Pfeiffer (who recently co-starred with Depp in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows) would portray glam socialite Mrs. Hubbard (Bacall’s role). Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is looking to portray the working class Mary Debenham, a woman holding a crush on Dr. Arbuthnot (to be played by the already announced Leslie Odom Jr., who won a Tony Award earlier this year for the smash musical Hamilton) while Oscar winner Dench will play Princess Dragomiroff (Wendy Hiller’s role in the 1974 film) and Michael Pena is being sought to play Cuban passenger Marquez. Tom Bateman, Lucy Boynton and Derek Jacobi also appear aboard the train.
Branagh opined, “Christie’s Murder is mysterious, compelling and unsettling. I’m honored to have this fantastic group of actors bring these dark materials to life for a new audience.” With the ensemble nearly complete – reportedly a few more roles have yet to be cast – this quickly-moving production is jetting to start production in London, starting in November. It was previously reported that Angelina Jolie may be vying for a part in the film, but she has since left the project.
Murder on the Orient Express is set to hit screens on November 22, 2017.