Willem Dafoe has joined the cast of Kenneth Branagh’s forthcoming new adaptation of the Agatha Christie classic, Murder on the Orient Express. The Hollywood Reporter states that Dafoe will be taking on the role of Mr. Hardman, a typewriter ribbon salesman who might have ties to the victim of the titular murder. Said victim is an American businessman who will be played by Johnny Depp. In addition to directing, Branagh will also star as Christie’s famous sleuth, Hercule Poirot.
This adaptation looks to be just as star-studded an affair as the famous 1974 version, which was helmed by Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Network). Beyond Depp, Branagh, and Dafoe, the impressive roster is currently comprised of Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Michael Pena, Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Derek Jacobi, with even more stars expected to appear. Production is currently underway in the U.K., ahead of an expected November 22nd release later this year.
Outside of 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Branagh has had a fair amount of success in Hollywood of late. Both Thor and Cinderella proved to be hits for him, boosting him into a different directorial area than he tended to inhabit previously. Murder on the Orient Express marks a return to a more classical type of cinema than those two fantastical blockbusters. I have no doubt that fans of his earlier works are pleased with this, as it certainly falls more in line with works such as Dead Again and Much Ado About Nothing than it does the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
2016 saw a good deal of quality adult-oriented films hitting the multiplexes nationwide. Films like Hacksaw Ridge, Deepwater Horizon, The Accountant, and The Nice Guys were all features that I had a good (if not great) time with last year. I hope that 2017 manages to shape up similarly and that I can count Murder on the Orient Express among the winners once this year closes out.