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Agatha Christie's famous detective, Hercule Poirot has been portrayed by numerous actors over the decades, including Albert Finney in the 1974 Murder on the Orient Express movie and David Suchet on TV from 1989 to 2013. Kenneth Branagh is the latest actor to don the mustache, as he'll be appearing later this year in the new theatrical adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, which he also directed. However, Branagh's Poirot will slightly deviate from previous versions of the detective because of his past as a soldier and police officer. Branagh said:
He has a military background, he's a former policeman, and there's a kind of action man-quality to him.
Hercule Poirot's intellect will always be his greatest gift to the world, but for the new Murder on the Orient Express movie, Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green decided that they wanted to make the character younger and "more physically able" compared to older depictions, both on the printed page and in other media. Green added that while the goal was still to stay true to both the spirit of the detective and the overall story, it was also important to "find ways to open it up cinematically, visually, and on a character level." Green explained to EW:
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!
Like the original 1934 novel and the 1974 movie, Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express will follow Hercule Poirot as he interviews a cast of colorful characters aboard a train to solve a murder. Going off this new information, it sounds like Branagh's Poirot, while still intellectually capable, is more of a rookie when it comes to his solo investigatory career, still a little way off from being the notorious detective from Agatha Christie's novels and short stories. More importantly, if this iteration of Poirot is more physically active, then perhaps we might see some new action-oriented moments to spice up the traditional story.
Murder on the Orient Express arrives in theaters on November 10.