How Disney+'s Artemis Fowl Nods At Murder On The Orient Express And Other Kenneth Branagh Films

Artemis Fowl and murder on the orient express side-by-side

Artemis Fowl is finally coming to Disney+ this June and when it hits the streaming service, eagle-eyed viewers can keep an eye out for some lovely nods set decorator Celia Bobak made sure to include in the new movie. During CinemaBlend's visit to the set of the movie when it was filming, Bobak explained how she decided to include special Easter eggs for director Kenneth Branagh, one of which is a Murder on the Orient Express nod in young Artemis Fowl’s bedroom.

There are a lot of details that go into making a set seem unique and fitting for a character and Celia Bobak told CinemaBlend and other outlets she had a lot of fun in particular with the room created for young Artemis Fowl, a boy genius set on restoring a family fortune and solving a mystery related to his father. There’s lots to look at on Disney+ in Fowl Manor, which was built from scratch from the ground up, but if you look very carefully you may just see the Easter eggs Bobak added as cute nods to the director’s other works.

They’re a family of collectors of things, butterflies, moths of previous generations… and then of course Artemis has moved into the land of LEGO and all the raspberry pie and lots of stuff bought from the science museum. I’ve tried to make this room imaginative and something that will catch the imagination of the young audience. Something that will really kind of amuse them. We’ve got a lovely old train set up their with tunnels, which actually I just did as a nod to Ken’s film [Murder on the Orient Express].

Kenneth Branagh is a bit of a jack of all trades in the entertainment industry, playing the likes of famous characters like Hercule Poirot as well as directing big budget movies such as Artemis Fowl, which is set to head to Disney+ next month. He also frequently collaborates with some of the same people, including Josh Gad in both Murder on the Orient Express and now Artemis Fowl. In fact, he and his set decorator have also collaborated on numerous projects, as Celia Bobak mentioned she’s worked with Branagh “11 or 12 times.”

Thus, it’s pretty fitting that she would think to throw in an Easter egg or two in regards to the director’s past works. In fact, speaking with Ms. Bobak, it almost seems as if the fun nods are just as much for Ken Branagh as they are for the audience. He seems like someone with an eye for detail, even suggesting gnomish details from Artemis Fowl lore to her set dressings and more. She also threw in a nod to Branagh’s love for Shakespearean projects, noting,

We’ve got gnomish symbols in a lot of the frames as just a tie that the family had to do with the fairy world for generations. Again that was Ken’s idea. Out in the atrium you’ll see two big Tudor portraits done of the original Fowls in the 16th century and there’s also Butler in 16th century dress. And then we have two paintings at the bottom of the stairs that are Arthur Rackham-ish of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, another nod to Ken and his theater work.

Branagh is a lover of Shakespeare, whether on the stage or the big screen, and has been a part of productions on both formats. At the time Artemis Fowl was filming, All is True, about the life of William Shakespeare, was about to head into theaters. All is True, like Artemis Fowl, also features Judi Dench (another frequent Branagh collaborator).

Speaking of frequent collaborators, these are just some of the Easter eggs the set design team peppered throughout, as a portrait of Jimmy Yuill, who starred in Much Ado About Nothing – again with Kenneth Branagh -- also shows up in Fowl Manor in Artemis Fowl.

Although time has passed between when Artemis Fowl was filmed, the announcement of its theatrical delay, and it hitting its final home on Disney+, there's still plenty for families to look forward to. Hopefully, these references in the upcoming movie will be fun for observant viewers and at least somewhat timely. Kenneth Branagh will, in fact, be reprising his role as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile coming up.

First, however, we’ll catch him behind the camera for Artemis Fowl, which is out on June 12 and also stars Josh Gad, Judi Dench, Ferdia Shaw, Nonso Anozie, Colin Farrell, Nikesh Patel, Tamara Smart and Lara McDonnell. If you haven’t started streaming on Disney+ yet, the service is still offering a free 7-day trial.

Now, if only there were a Thor reference to catch…

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.