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May 03 2017

Thoughts I Had: First images from "Murder on the Orient Express"

To Entertainment Weekly the honor of introducing us,or re-introducing us rather,to the characters ofMurder on the Orient Express.The Agatha Christie book was first published in 1934,got a very popular Oscar loved film adaptation forty years later and another forty-plus after that it'll be back in movie theaters again with a brand new cast.

After the jump a mega post about this cover and the adjacent character photos that came with it...


• Michelle Pfeiffer is at the very center,as well she should be.

• I was really hoping for more color in the costumes.This looks subdued,which is maybe not the way to go with an old school nostalgia-laced mystery adventure.The costume designer Alexandra Byrne has been doing superhero pictures for a while now so maybe she felt more realism was in order?But all star pictures need GLAMOUR.That's why they exist.

• Isn't it great when magazines f*** with their format like this,printing a horizontal photo vertically?This will show how ancient I am but one time in the comic book Alpha Flight John Byrne drew everything in horizontal framing so you had to turn the comic book sideways like a flip up notebook to read it and it was thrilling to baby me who voraciously loved comic books but didn't know you could do that!

• ↖️ This bitch thought she was the star of this photo shoot didn't she?

• I wish we could see more of what that decorative backdrop looks like?From the actual set or just photoshoot props?

• The film opens on November 10th which seems like a great time for it.

• Michelle Pfeiffer is holding her glass highest as if about to toast.Whatever it is,I'll drink to that!.Welcome back,my beloved.

• Kenneth Branagh's Moustache has the leading role.His ever present companion Kenneth Branagh directs him and the other actors.I know some people think Branagh goes over the top but I'd argue that that's when he does his most entertaining work (Dead Again,anyone?)

• Every actor on this cover is looking at a different spot and none of the eyelines seem to match.One doesn't have to be Poirot to conclude that all the actors were shot separately and then combined in photoshop.This is one of the great tragedies of modern times,that they don't require actors to share a room even when they're promoting the same picture!I'd be all Mike Leigh up in that shit if I was a director.'You either give me your full (months) of time or no role for you!'

• Penelope Cruz looks visibly worried to be sharing a movie with herPiratesco-star Johnny Depp again.Wouldn't you?The last pairing was pure junk.

• I have seen the original film when I was a little kid but never since.I don't remember itat all.Perhaps a revisit soon.


But before we do this list it must be acknowledged that a brownish backdrop with earth tone costuming is total snoresville for a photoshoot.WHY?

01.Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard- a "busybody"and "loudmouth".Yaaaas.This is not what you'd immediately expect from cagey quiet Pfeiffer and we miss her so much.

02.Olivia Colman as "Hildegarde Schmidt"- she is Dench's maid.AfterTyrannosaurandThe Lobstershe has our full attention.Such an exciting actress and what range!

03Dame Judi Dench asPrincess Dragomiroff- Dench as a fussy royal sounds wonderful albeit in a very expected way.I'm praying for good pampered doggie scenes.

04.Penelope Cruz as "Pilar Estrevados"-We're excited to have Cruz back but as a drably dressed "missionary"type?Hmmm.

05Leslie Odom Jr as "Dr.Arbuthnot"- True confession: I didn't think that Odom deserved the Tony forHamilton(not that he wasn't good in it but I preferred Lin-Manuel Miranda or Danny Burstein for that win).Regardless of that small annoyance,I'm all for stage stars -- especially those with major musical talent  -- making it in the movies.The more of them that do the less excuse Hollywood will have to cast non-singers and non-dancers in movie musicals.Color me curious if his magnetism will transfer to the big screen whilst sharing scenes with movie stars.You never really know with stage stars.They are different mediums and his sidebar work on "Smash"didn't provide enough evidence.

06Sergei Polunin as "Count Andrenyi"- A dancer turned actor.I'm unfamiliar but discovery is one of the joys of moviegoing...and one Hollywood doesn't let us have often enough with their insistence on casting major stars even in tiny roles

07Willem Dafoe as "Gerard Hardman"- Dafoe,for all his singularity as a performer,always feels most at home in eccentric ensembles doesn't he,whether that's onstage with the Wooster group or in Wes Anderson films?High hopes.

08.Derek Jacobi as "Masterman"- Jacobi is always welcome and is playing Ratchett's butler.[ASIDE: why is it that the only "out"older male actors are all British?]

09.Kenneth Branagh as Poirot- What we said earlier though that moustache is seriously obnoxious.

10.Daisy Ridley as "Mary Debenham"-still not convinced she's more than just "get me a young Keira Knightley type!"but we'll see.She plays a "forward-thinking"governness in a relationship with the doctor.

11.Lucy Boynton as "Countess Andrenyi"- a possibly drug addicted aristocrat.She was really good inSing Street.

12.Tom Bateman as "Bouc"- he's the flirtatious train director.A young British actor but we haven't yet seen him in anything.He's in the comedySnatchedwhich opens very soon.

And two more lookers we don't yet know as actors...

13.Marwen Kenzari as "Pierre Michel"- the train conductor.He's a Dutch Tunisian actor previously seen inThe LoftandBen-Hur.He's got four movies coming out this year  (The Promise,The Mummy,What Happened to Monday,and this) so maybe he'll be an international star soon.

14.Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as "Biniamino Marquez"-A rising Mexican actor.Previously seen inThe Magnificent Seven.He plays a Cuban car dealer

15 [tie]Johnny Depp as "Edward Ratchett"and Josh Gad as "Hector MacQueen"- They're both exhausting.On the brighter side the last two times Johnny Depp played characters named Edward,he gave two of his very best performances.

What are your thoughts on these photos and how would you rank the cast in order of your anticipation for their work?

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Reader Comments (55)

Judi Dench's face looks so powdered-white -- what is going on there?

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Your so right about Pfeiffer's placing,did they get those costumes at a charity sale.

I'm hoping for more colour too.

Love Cruz's look and they changed her name.

Not so sure on the Moustache.

I like seeing Johnny's face seems like the 90's since I last saw it.

Looking back shouldn't Coleman been in that weak Best Actress 2011 line up.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

That was the Princess's look Wendy HiIller had the same make up in 74.

this MP pic is everything you need for today.


May 3,2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

The 74 film is one of my favorites so I approach this re-make with curiousity and trepidation.
I like Branaugh but I'm worried by Cruz and Depp.Ingrid Bergman is a lot to live e up to but at least Depp will die by midway.(Or sooner with luck).
I had hoped that Keira Knightley would play the governess.And then Daisy Ridley got cast.
The governess is supposed to be in her 30's,Ridley is far too young for the part.
I'm most looking forward to seeing Pfeiffer,Dench,Coleman,and Jacobi.
You're right about the clothes - they should positively reek of style.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I think I'm most excited for Willem Dafoe,Penélope Cruz and,strangely,Johnny Depp.Also Michelle Pfeiffer.And Branagh's moustache looks so wrong,it might turn out to be right!

Nathaniel: Do revisit the 1974 version.It is a delight on repeat viewings.Thank you Sidney Lumet,Albert Finney and everyone!

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I am for Judi in this!

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

Sorry to be picky but while the artist you named is correct (John Byrne) and he was responsible for the best Alpha Flight run,still the reference to the comic book is wrong...that was the Fantastic - pun intended - issue 252 of Fantastic Four...here's the link to its cover.


May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

On the other side...excited to see what Cruz does with the Oscar-winning role (Ingrid Bergman) which will be a 180º turn from her usual Hollywood fare...will this catch the AMPAS off-guard and earn her,a 4th nom?I doubt she's winning but with an actor's director like Brannagh,I'd say she,then Dench and then Pfeiffer might be the 3 best shots for acting noms in this remake.Still not convinced this is going to get anywhere beyond costume and production design,maybe make up.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Lady Edith--I haven't seen the original,and now I know which character dies.Can people please try to avoid spoilers?

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

This seems like good fun,but I worry about remaking a mystery with such a famous ending.They don't have the benefit of surprise,but with a cast like this there will (hopefully!) be fun enough along the way.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

Pfeiffer – anything she does from her out deserves a curious look and listen.She's an icon from my birth decade and has a face no one else has.She's pretty pretty and not ugly interesting pretty like some beloved actresses at The Film Experience.亚博主页She needs to win Supporting Actress regardless of her competition unless they happened to be Sigourney Weaver.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Jesus: I'd doubt this will get within the top 5 (the original didn't either),but Branagh is respected (the only film of his I'd say reads as a bad idea even on paper was that Chris Pine Jack Ryan feature),and the original would probably be a nominee under modern rules.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

The original is one of my all-timers.So I am not on board.Finney was so brilliant;no one can stand in that long shadow.But Branagh is so wrong for this in every way.And that original cast cannot be beat.And Geoff Unsworth's photography and Richard Rodney Bennett's score,simply thrilling and so lush and shimmering.Why does this new one bastardize the book?I'll be taking the bus.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

This cast is too die for and the book is one of my favourites so they better not f*ck it up.Can't wait to see this.I have been really enjoying this Christie revival.By the way,there's another adaptation coming.Crooked House will star Gillian Anderson,Christina Hendricks and Glen Close.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarek

If you could replace Bergman nomination with another cast member who would you pick,it's Hiller for me.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I love Olivia Colman.She never fails to disappoint me.

The only thing keeping me away from this remake is Johnny Depp.Pretty sure he will be delivering a cartoonish performance.Tired,so tired of seeing him.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterheikoS

Impressive international cast

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Pfeiffer,Dench and Colman !

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterErick Loggia

Looks awful.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Pfeiffer Colman Boynton Cruz Dench Ridley Dafoe.

Odom did not do well in Smash,like,at all.
At least Depp does not put cartoonish makeup on for once.
Stop trying to make Gad happen,Hollywood.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJija

I remember the original movie with much vividness because I watched it twice - once on the big screen and then on TV.It's lovely to see all these wonderful actresses together (Cruz,Pfeiffer,Dench) in the remake but my nagging thought is that it may be hard to top the original.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJans

I read the book again last year.I don't know if Branagh is hewing closely to the book,but I think Depp can do Ratchett if he wants to.I'm a little less certain of Josh Gad.Pfeiffer has the juiciest role,Branagh's second,and I totally expect Judi Dench and Willem Dafoe to slay in their roles.The rest should be fine,but I hope at least one of them surprises me (in a good way).

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Google "sergei polunin take me to church".You're welcome.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

This is a WHOLE LOT.Josh Gad's ability to spoil everything (even terrible things) is matched by Olivia Colman ability to make everything wonderful (even perfect things) and I'm so torn.But at the same time it's very subdued?Color me confused-ish

May 3,2017 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Looks like fun,although I agree the costumes need to be way more colourful and glamourous.The Orient Express (Paris to Istanbul?) was a famous train for the very wealthy,so the costumes shouldn't be drab.

Kenneth Branagh,as a director,casts really interesting actors,generally keeps a brisk pace,and keeps the storyline clear.

Of the actors,I'm resigned to Branagh as Hercule Poirot.He'll probably take the Albert Finney route of portraying the character as hammy and florid.David Suchet,in the PBS series,is the definitive Poirot.He's sleek,cosmopolitan,and smart.

The actor I want to see most is Sergei Polunin,called one of the best dancers of his generation,and subject of a recent documentary,"Dancer".

I also like that Branagh and Judi Dench are working together again.I think their last work together was A Winter's Tale on stage in London.

May 3,2017 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Brannaugh's moustache looks CGI!

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Why no Emma Thompson,mr.Branagh?

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Pilar Estravados is a character in "Hercule Poirot's Christmas"whose real name is Conchita and actually is supplanting another girl.Transfering her into this may play as a spoiler or not (if you know the outcome of "Murder in the Orient Express")

May 3,2017 | Unregistered CommenterLuis

I predict Coleman will be mvp,the Dench-Coleman scenes will be to die for and the film,as a whole,to have an odd and inconsistent tone.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

I am not happy with this remake for all the reasons already mentioned.
The entire cast is wrong.Olivia Coleman is my favorite.Any role she plays is exquisite.A big fan of the two Broadchurches.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterK

I am agreeing with Suzanne.This looks awful.Michelle looks 67.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

@JJ: Putting aside the fact that the novel is more then 80 years old,and the Oscar winning adaptation is more than 40 years old,and the twists and turn of this particular property are very well-known to most crime novel and movie lovers,so it seems really silly to pretend these are great mysteries we're dealing with and that need a spoiler alert: It is never a spoiler at all that a character dies in a murder mystery.And in Agatha Christie novels and adaptations,it's always telegraphed heavily from the start who the character who's going to die will be,as he's the one everybody else will have a motive to kill,because it really wouldn't be an Agatha Christie murder mystery if it was clear who did to begin with.So please don't try to police conversations about the casting here with cries of spoiler alerts.

That being said,I'm really interested in what Branagh is going to do with his character.The only Poirot for me will always be Peter Ustinov,who was terrific at the Belgian's character quirks,and revelled in the big solutions scenes,when the entire cast gets assembled and the great detective explains the crime.Albert Finney in the original was quite good as well,especially in his solution scene.The casting of Penelope Cruz as a renamed and relocated Greta Olson seems counterintuitive and against type,so I'm interested what she is going to do with the character (I hope she's going to be more interesting than Ingrid Bergman in the original,she won the Oscar on a very sentimental note for one of the less notable performances in her career and in the movie she was in).

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

As usual "hurtful,"your comments have no value.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBey

Which of the cast do you think could get an Oscar nomination?

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterSerg

MrW: I want to come out in support of JJ.The surprises of Murder on the Orient Express are too great to be spoilered.JJ is not policing the conversation,but merely asking that the plot detail not be revealed.That's reasonable.

JJ: Bearing in mind,though,that this is the internet,you may want to avoid the risk of finding out by accident: if so,I heartily recommend both the novel and the 1974 film.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Hating Cruz's wig already.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered Commenterseisgrados

I'm glad to be corrected that there are,clearly,some film buffs and actressexuals who have inexplicably not yet seen the original movie.

Thank god that someone else took the heat,I was about to start chatting about who did it,never mind who dies...

Re: Olivia Colman for Tyrannosaur in 2011

She deserved the win.It still irks me that Olivia Colman,Elizabeth Olsen,Anna Paquin,Charlize Theron and Tilda Swinton (never mind Kirsten Dunst) ALL missed nominations that year.All were slam-dunk nominations that just needed a clever distributor and visibility.Everyone apart from Tilda was failed on that count.The mind boggles.

The actual slate is one of the worst on record (and I controversially believe that Streep WAS the best of those 5)...

May 4,2017 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

I have never seen the original nor know the plot points.PLENTY of younger readers of this blog are in the same camp.

So MrW and LadyEdith,I know you may not care about this group of people (they haven't seen classics so screw 'em,huh?),but spoiler tags would be appreciated and are fairly low effort.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny


It always pains me when people bring up the 2011 Best Actress race.Honestly,it was tough to really root for any of the ones nominated,considering the huge plethora of rich female performances that WERE RIGHT THERE for the picking,including Olivia Colman's glorious performance in Tyrannosaur.My favorite was Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia,but Charlize,Tilda,Juliette Binoche,Adepero,Elizabeth,Anna Paquin,even Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids were all superior.And ALL of these women actually starred in really GOOD films...(I still can't believe that Albert Nobbs was nominated for THREE Oscars.亚博主页Ugh).

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

get that Oscar bitch!!!!(Penelope)

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterT

@ Edward et.al.: The point of this post was to discuss the all-star cast of the remake of a famous film that had an all-star cast,as well.I do not believe it is an outrageous supposition to expect people engaging in this discussion to have at least some degree of familiarity with the property that is being talked about.Especially when we are talking about the second- or third most read (and most beloved) novel by the most read author of the 20th century,which is famous for plot points that even people who haven't read the novel are familiar with.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

The FUCKED UP NEGATIVE film trolls/people need to get off this blog life is short and be happy :)

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

I said in an earlier post concerning this movie :NOT TO HAVE SPOILERS.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterK

@AJ What are you talking about???

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterK

I am sorry...Do have spoiler alert!!

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterK

Good Heavens!What a kerfuffle over my post.
As for spoilers,when a novel is this old and there are already film and TV adaptations
I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to avoid them.
It would like expecting a spoiler free discussion of Gone With the Wind or The Great Gatsby.
If there had been a tag warning us to avoid any discussion of the plot,I would have obeyed that instruction.
I wish to thank those who came to my defence.
Those who objected,I meant no malice.
If you have not read this 80 yr.classic,- or seen the exemplary 74 version,I'm sorry you've led a deprived life.
And I'm happy we all log Olivia Coleman.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I meant Love Olivia Coleman,of course.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

So great to see Debra Winger and Sharon Stone back on the big screen in this very large cast.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

Mr W: I meant no disrespect to you,and I don't want to prolong the agony.I get what you're saying about the age of the material,of course.I just think that,especially when it comes to Agatha Christie and others of her ilk,we should try to avoid spoilers.No one spoiled Murder on the Orient Express for me before I first read it on the grounds that it was such a famous story that everyone knows what happens.And so I had the great pleasure of being surprised thanks to Christie herself.Admittedly,that was in the days before the internet,so there was less risk of stumbling across a spoiler,but even so,I just don't think we should assume that people know what happens.

That said,this is Nathaniel's site,and he is always reasonable,and so if he thinks the film is fair game and there's no need to avoid spoilers,that can be our guide.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.


The original is a lot of fun,but that score and that red light in the beginning make a super creepy intro.

May 4,2017 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

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