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New footage from Kenneth Branagh’s all-star adaptation of Agatha Christie’s crime classic Murder on the Orient Express for Fox was unveiled in London on Friday, with around 20 minutes of clips from inside the famed train shown to the press.
Branagh, plus a sizable number of his impressive ensemble cast — including Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad and Olivia Colman — were on hand for the post-screening Q&A. The director, who plays Hercule Poirot in the film, sadly was not sporting the Belgian detective’s mustache, described as “the greatest mustache in all of England” by James Prichard, Christie’s great-grandson and chair of Agatha Christie Limited.
“What was astonishing about the film was that we were all together,” said Dench of the shoot’s intimate setting. Much of the filming was done inside the train with all of the lead castmembers. “I remember once being in a film and going to the premiere and saying to an actor friend of mine, ‘Hello, what are you doing here?’ and he said, ‘I’m in it!’ “
Most of the filming was done in the U.K.’s Longcross Studios, where two fully moving trains were constructed. Branagh explained that, in order to keep the experience as real as possible for the cast, LED screens were wrapped around the carriages, onto which hours of footage of a train traveling across a mountainscape were projected.
“People actually began to get motion sickness,” he said, while Dench joked that, such is her eyesight, she actually thought they were traveling.
Despite being warned by Branagh not to watch Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation, Cruz admitted that she did see it again, “but with one eye open and one eye closed.”
Cruz plays the missionary portrayed by Ingrid Bergman in Lumet’s version.
“There was no way I could approach it and try to do what she did,” she explained. “It was very clear to all of us that [Branagh] wanted to do something new … something very modern. So I watched it from a distance.”
Ukrainian ballet star Sergei Polunin, in his first acting role, was seen utilizing his strengths, performing knockout scissor kicks in some impressive action scenes.
“I was really worried when there were acting scenes, but where there were fighting scenes, I felt at home,” he said.
When asked whom each of the cast would like to “bunk up with” should they go on the real Orient Express, Gad, who said he plays “Johnny Depp’s bitch,” proved to be the popular choice, with Derek Jacobi labeling the actor a “new gay icon.”
Gad, on the other hand, turned to Dench.
“Dame Judi Dench? More like daaaaaamn, Judi Dench!”
Murder on the Orient Express is set for release in November.
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