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Who should join Angelina Jolie in the Murder Cast?

Murtada here. Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is being remade by Kenneth Branagh. He will direct and play the lead part of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot who’s investigating a murder that happens on the famous train as it is making its way across Europe. The novel has been adapted several times, most famously into an Oscar winning film in 1974 by Sidney Lumet and an all star cast, led by Albert Finney as Poirot. Angelina Jolie was announced as Mrs Hubbard, an American loquacious socialite, played in 1974 version by Lauren Bacall. It’s good casting as the part calls a star with lots of presence.

Even though I haven’t read the Christie novel, I have seen the movie version and a 2010 British TV version with Jessica Chastain right before she hit it big. The story lends itself to an all star cast as basically every character gets an intro, one big scene and gets to participate in the finale. And everyone has a secret of course so the parts are juicy and fun and not too taxing on the actors. Hopefully lots of entertaining actors will sign up.

Who would you cast? Our suggestions for some of the characters after the jump...

Princess Natalia Dragomiroff (Dame Wendy Hiller), an elderly Russian royal - this is the role that Branagh is probably earmarking for his current favorite leading lady, Dame Judi Dench. And there’s no doubt she would be fun delivering haughty line readings, but may we suggest another Dame? Angela Lansbury.


Hildegarde Schmidt (Rachel Roberts), the Princess' personal maid - they are obviously going younger with this version since Jolie is more than a decade younger than Bacall was when she played Mrs Hubbard. Kirsten Dunst could have lots of fun with this part, imagine Torrance Shipman a bit older, a bit more bitter and German. Lansbury and Dunst in war of one liners? Gimme.

Colonel Arbuthnott (Sean Connery), an officer in the British Indian Army- they are always being compared as to who’s the best Bond, let’s see who's the best Colonel Arbuthnott. Daniel Craig

Mary Debenham (Vanessa Redgrave), a teacher who might be more intimate with the Colonel than she lets on - this is the role Chastain played in 2010. This is the most romantic character and requires an actress with subtle but deep and available emotions. How about Emayatzy Corinealdi? If only because we’ve imagined her in many parts since falling hard for her in Middle of Nowhere (2012).

Beddoes (Sir John Gielgud), the victim's English valet - Branagh will definitely give Derek Jacobi a part and he’s perfect for this one so let’s not go on a futile exercise by suggesting someone else.

Hector McQueen (Anthony Perkins), the victim's secretary and translator - since we’ve already brought in Bond, might as well bring in Q. Ben Whishaw.

There are a few others parts - Count and Countess Andrenyi (Michael York and Jacqueline Bissett in 1974) - and of course what has become the star part because of Oscar, Swedish missionary Greta (Ingrid Bergman). Who would you cast in the remaining parts? Who has the the charisma, uniqueness and nerve to take on Bergman? 

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Reader Comments (53)

Gwendoline Christie as Hildegarde seems like a natural fit.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

Rosemarie DeWitt for Greta.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMojo

I really love those 1970's Christie adaptions, since they are basically all-star acting competitions. 'Death on the Nile' gave us a constant Bette Davis vs. Maggie Smith, and I love every minute of these two sharing the screen.

As for 'Orient Express', Lauren Bacall easily steals the entire movie, although Rachel Roberts is fantastic, as well (and I absolutely love you're re-casting idea, although I feel like suggesting Nina Hoss here). Ingrid, on the other hand, only won the Oscar because she was Ingrid - there's really nothing remarkable about her performance (a shame, especially considering fellow nominee Valentina Cortese delivered one of the most hilarious performances of all time). That being said, Charlotte Gainsbourgh seems like an obvious casting choice for the Bergman part.

Other casting choices from the top of my head: Tom Hardy as Sean Connery, Jennifer Lawrence as Jacqueline Bisset, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Michael York.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Angela should absolutely play the Dowager especially since she also played in Death on the Nile ,another Christie adaptation. I also agree with Santy that Gwendoline Christie is a perfect choice. Jolie is too young for Mrs Hubbard. Kristen Scott Thomas would have been a great choice. Lena Olin should play the Bergman part as she is Swedish. The Count and Countess are the hardest part to cast. They have to be young and very glamorous. I can't think of a 20 something male who fits that part. There are many glamorous actresses though- off the top of my head I am thinking Lea Seydoux.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentertom

Paprika Steen as Greta. Or Nina Hoss.

Just because they are the two current best actress of the world that aren't French.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I'll just do the ladies

Mirren or Dench will get the Wendy Hiller gig.
Vikander gets the old Bisset role
Winslet gets Redgraves secretary role
Close for Bergman or even better Isabella
Weaver for Roberts

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Lansbury completes wholesale theft of DOTN even Davis gets no luck.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

I nominate Hiller in 74 cos I can,I simply love her in it although I know there's nothing to the role really same way I nominate Clare Trevor for Kiss Me Goodbye in 82,love the old timers coming back for 1 last gasp.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Jolie is only 7 yrs younger than Bacall was in 74 playing Hubbard which she does badly IMO.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

@ Mark yes Lansbury just waltzes off with that movie.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentertom

Hercule Poiret - Kenneth Branagh
Mrs Hubbard - Kristin Scott Thomas
Bianchi - Christian Bale
Greta - Olivia Williams / Lena Ohlin/ Lena Endre
Countess Andrenyi - Emily Blunt
Count Andrenyi - Alexander Skarsgaard
Pierre - Sean Bean
Col. Arbuthnot - Idris Elba
Beddoes - Jason Isaacs
McQueen - Stephen Dillane
Princess Dragomiroff - Diana Rigg
Mary Debenham - Angelina Jolie
Hildegarde - Gwendoline Christie
Ratchett - Ralph Fiennes
Hardman - Michael McElhatton

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Wendy Hiller and Rachel Roberts were my favorite things in the '74 version.

Count and Countess Andrenyi = Jamie Bell/Tom Hiddleston/Armie Hammer/Chris Hemsworth/Robert Pattinson + Carey Mulligan/Rooney Mara/Gemma Arterton/Scarlett Johansson/Hayley Atwell (not paired in that order)

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Anyone think Julia Roberts would have ben better than Jolie,Julia has that obnoxious enttiled persona down pat.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Emayatzy Corinealdi for everything, so: yes!

June 13, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Agata Kulesza as Greta

I'm all in with Lansbury in this (and anything!)

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

Casey Affleck as Hector McQueen
Daniel Day-Lewis in full throttle as Ratchett
And without question the best choice for Mrs Hubbard would be
Annette Bening

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

Tom Hiddleston & Rooney Mara would be ideal as the Count and Countess; and of course Daniel Craig for the Connery role; Jacobi ideal for Gielgud; Diana Rigg or yes Maggie Smith for the Princess Dragimiroff though I imagine Dame Dench or Vanessa will get the gig, Branagh will surely shoehorn Julie Christie in as well - does the missionary have to be Swedish?

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMichael O'Sullivan

Christie as Dragamiroff riffing on D/Zchivago.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Sounds awfully hammy already, if that can be imagined as it was in 1974. Worst Oscar winner in Supporting Actress, coming only 4 years after they gave made another blunder by handing it to Helen Hayes over Karen Black or Lee Grant. I still can't believe it was Sidney Lumet's follow up to "Serpico."

And Finney's nomination was shsmeful, given that Gene Hackman was overlooked for his work in "The Conversation."

At least they gave DeNiro his first statue over the expected winner, Fred Astaire in another monstrosity that snagged a Best Picture nomination, "The Towering Inferno," All this in what is considered to be one of the Best Years in American cinema.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

I just realized that Branagh is smart enough to cast Glenda Jackson as the elderly Princess, should she be interested in making the film her return to the screen after playing Lear on stage this fall.

(Wow, Wendy Hiller was only in her early 60s when played the role!)

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The original has perfect cast it's going to be hard to top it- but do like most of your suggestions

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

[82 year old spoiler alert]

As great as some of the suggestions for the role of Countess Andrenyi are, people aren't really taking into consideration that she is supposed to be Angelina Jolie's daughter, right?

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Some of these are fantastic suggestions. Daniel Craig, Ben Whishaw and Derek Jacobi all make great sense.

Emayatzy Corinealdi is a fine actress but she doesn't work within the confines of the part. There's no way a career officer like Colonel Arbuthnott would even consider marrying a woman of color and reside in England during the period the film is set. If Craig does it why not pair him up with real life wife Rachel Weisz. Or I could see Kirsten Dunst doing better by this than Hildegarde. Or perhaps Rosamund Pike.

Love Judi Dench but just no, give someone else a chance. Love the idea of Angela Lansbury but I would be thrilled to see either Charlotte Rampling or Julie Christie, Branagh managed to coax her into doing Hamlet so why not this?, take on the role.

Angelina is too young for Mrs. Hubbard and it's a pity she already there since she'd be a perfect Countess Andrenyi. I see Jessica Lange or Sigourney Weaver working better as the loquacious Mrs. Hubbard.

Glenn Close for Hildegarde Schmidt or Emma Thompson

They are big shoes to follow in but I'd love to see Imelda Staunton play Greta.

Willem Defoe as Ratchett

Tom Hardy as Tony Foscarelli

Damian Lewis or Benedict Cumberbatch as Count Andrenyi.

Ewan McGregor as Hardman

Since Jean-Pierre Cassel played Pierre Michel in the original it would be genius to see his son Vincent Cassel take on the role here.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Bacall (50) was 20 years older than Bisset (30); Jolie is 41, so we're going to have to assume she's playing it older, unless they really want the Countess to be a child.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Paul and Jim - yeah I'm very curious about the Countess casting because of the Jolie connection.

June 13, 2016 | Registered CommenterMurtada Elfadl

This remake is again so unnecessary. Create new ideas, Hollywood!
But seeing a modern all-star cast version of this novel is exciting though.

Poirot - Branagh
Mrs. Hubbard - Jolie
Mary Debenham - Chastain
Arbuthnot - Craig
MacQueen - Whishaw
Rathcett - Fiennes
Dragomiroff - Dench
Hildegarde - Gwendoline Christie
Greta Ohlsson - Glenn Close
Countess Andrenyi - Jennifer Lawrence
Count Andrenyi - Liam Hemsworth
Cyrus Hardman - Tom Hardy
Foscarelli - Michael Shannon
Masterman - Gary Oldman
Pierre Michel - Jean Dujardin
Buoc - Christoph Waltz
Constantine - Richard Jenkins

Hey, what the hell right?

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

I am late to this party but when I read that Angelina Jolie is going to be Mrs. Hubbard I threw my hands up in despair. Such a typical bit of stupidity from Hollywood at this time. Producers are so much more ageist than back in the 70's. Annette Benning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kristin Scott Thomas, would have all been better choices than the too young Jolie. A very poor start.

Branaugh is usually good with casting, but now he will have to get each and every other part exactly right to make up for this lamentable choice.
Joel6 has the best suggestions so far.
Colonel Arbuthnot deserves to be played by a real Scot - either Ewan McGregor or James McAvoy should be cast here. His counterpart - Mary Debenham should be played by either Rosamund Pike or Keira Knightley.
With Jolie being too young this means they are going to have to go for a very young Countess Andrenyi - possibly Lily James. I like Cumberbatch as the Count Andrenyi.
For Pierre who plays a key role - Guillaume Canet or Vincent Cassel.
Princess Dragomirof - Helen Mirren (she's part Russian for real)
Hidegarde Schmidt - Imelda Staunton
Greta - either Emma Thompson or Sidse Babett Knudsen (Borgon fans will know)
By all mean Derek Jacobi for the part of Beddoes - that's a perfect fit.

But Angelina Jolie is going to have to be miles better than she has been lately to keep up with a top rank cast.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

And now, since no one has made these suggestions, I will: Tilda Swinton as Hildegarde Schmidt and Cate Blanchett (once Jolie inevitably drops out) as Mrs. Hubbard.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The smartest actors are running away from this.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer 1994

Yay, Jolie doing what she should be doing - acting. And no, acting in her own self-directed films does not count because the director sucks.

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Several people have made great suggestions here (Jacobi, Dench, Nina Hoss, Whishaw, Craig), but my favorite of the lot is joel6's idea of Sigourney Weaver for Mrs. Hubbard. That'd be dynamite. A shame it won't happen.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

This is the first movie I was obsessed with as a kid. Also, the book is terrific, one of the best mysteries ever conceived. I just know they're going to fuck this up. There's no reason for this remake, but if it just has to be, here are some casting notions:

Nobody is ever going to do Poirot better than Finney, so I guess I'm OK with Branagh. He could look the role somewhat, I guess, though he's way too tall. Christie has described him as a short, plump, funny-looking man. And can he even do a Belgian accent? They should age and pad out Oscar Isaac.

Mrs Hubbard - Jolie is ridiculous casting. This character is the mother of a 24-year-old woman. I would go with Jessica Lange, who looks 10 years younger than she is. And you need someone in this role who has presence.
Bianchi - Tom Hanks
Greta - Lena Olin
Countess Andrenyi - Emily Blunt
Count Andrenyi - Tom Hardy
Pierre - Jean Dujardin
Col. Arbuthnot - Mark Strong
Beddoes - Frank Langella
McQueen - Jake Gyllenhaal
Princess Dragomiroff - Julie Christie
Mary Debenham - Jessica Chastain
Hildegarde - Glenn Close
Ratchett - Harvey Keitel
Hardman - Karl Urban
Dr. Constantine--Michael Caine
Foscarelli--Luca Calvani

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I'm just gonna put it out there. Michelle Pfeiffer for the Ingrid Bergman-role. She can pull of plainness and accents (+ she got Swedish ancestry!)

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJesper Larsson

If Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Colman can't be Mrs. Hubbard, then I'd consider them for Greta, too.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKyle

Joel6 - it's about time we got color blind casting in the movies. They do it all the time in the theater. And Branagh did it with Cindrella. Minor characters and that story is a fantasy. But Christie is not exactly historical reality. Any of these parts could be played by actors of color.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersummer

Ooooh Paul, Glenda Jackson would be soo amazing and not unlike the Wendy Hiller casting

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

Summer, not in this case. Christie's work is all about class and milieu. She would roll over in her grave, as steeped in racism as her novels are.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Paul, ITA about class in Christie's novels. One of the clues to Beddoes' true identity is that he is British. Arbuthnot tries to confuse Poirot by claiming Col. Armstrong had an Indian orderly, which of course was impossible because at that time period, only officers stationed in India had Indian valets.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Class is certainly a major plot element in Christie's novels but race is rarely relevant - sure the majority of characters are white European, with the smattering of characters with other ethnicities in subservient roles, but that would reflect her social circle.

With that in mind there are many characters, essentially excluding Poirot and minor European royalty, that could be played by actors of colour with only a tiny rewrite.

Shar Rukh Khan would be a charismatic Arbuthnot
Chadwick Boseman as Hardman
Angela Bassett as Schmidt


June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

At the time period the novels (especially this one, late 1920s, early 1930s) are set, race, class and milieu were inextricably intertwined. I'm the last person to reject color-blind casting when it makes sense, but it would be ridiculous to cast non-white actors in any of these roles, especially since their "secret identities" are such a major factor. You just wouldn't have found people of color in most of these jobs and in these relationships to white people.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Mrs. Hubbard- Kristen Scott Thomas (If Jolie decides to leave)
Hector- Daniel Radcliffe, someone who is physically skinny and can be believably shy
Beddows- Ian McKellan, can play the submissive servant with lots of emotion below the surface.
Col. Arbuthnot- Hugh Jackman, believable military man and gentelman
Countess- Lily James if Jolie stays, Emma Watson if she leaves
Count- Chris Hemsworth, the most glamorous 20 something male star.
Princess Natalia- Angela Lansbury because she will get an Oscar for this, because she is a master of accents, and she has ties to other Christie works.
Hildegarde- Gwendoline Christie, strong and can be plain looking, you wouldn't suspect her
Mary Debenham- Scarlett Johansen the flirty femme fatale, outside of box choice- Lupita Nyongo
Greta- Lena Olin as she is Swedish and she needs another shot at Oscar. and if you want to be sentimental go with Isabella Rossellini. She also deserves from Oscar talk.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Who you have found someone who looks like Sophie Okonedo in 1690s Salem? Yet here she is on Broadway in The Crucible. hat's exactly the point of color blind casting. As long as the actor can interpet the character it doesn't matter if they look like them.

June 14, 2016 | Registered CommenterMurtada Elfadl

Murtada, yes, you would have: the character of Tituba, whom Okonedo might be playing in a traditional revival of The Crucible. The one currently on Broadqay, however, is a modern-dress production in a contemporary setting (not 17th century), and color-blind casting is entirely appropriate and part of the concept.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Maybe the example I chose wasn't the right one... but you know what I mean. I stand by my choice of Corinealdi and agree that any of these characters can by played by actors of color, They don't have to look like the character was described as long as they can interpt him/her. We all suspend belief at the movies to a certain extent after all.

June 14, 2016 | Registered CommenterMurtada Elfadl

It's not about how they look or are described in the book, but who they are, i.e., familal and societal relationships, heritage etc.. This story just isn't built for color-blind casting, unless Branagh is doing a contemporary version, which doesn't make any sense, unless it's going to be called Murder on the Airbus A380.

Anyway, agree to really disagree.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I think there is a way for Corinealdi to work. The character of Mary is currently a teacher but former secretary. Her family history is not one of riches and luxury. And, the family that employed her lived in America for quite some time. Mary could be changed to an American character (not too much of a stretch). Her romance with the colonel is one brought about by love and grief. He shouldn't be with her and vise versa but they are anyway. It could be acknowledged and then move on. I would prefer Lupita in the role as she can do different accents and therefore could play different nationalities.

June 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Rose Byrne in the Hildegarde role. If the role calls for some kind of hilarity, then I'd call up the current Queen of Comedy!

June 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St.Clair

As Nathaniel has reminded us in the banner, there is not enough Matthew Goode in this conversation.

June 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

It's very strange to find on this inclusive blog arguments against color blind casting.

June 15, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersummer

Did you actually read the arguments and consider who wrote them, summer? (To be clear: I am a performer belonging to multiple minority groups—depending on who's doing the casting on a given production—and I would not expect to be considered for a role unless it made sense for the material and/or the production concept.)

June 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

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