Angelina Jolie has had a varied career as an actress. In 1999, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Girl, Interrupted and from there, she has tackled a number of roles, all of which differ wildly from one another. Films such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Kung Fu Panda have shown off her comedic side, while Maleficent gave her a chance to portray her favorite classic villain on screen. In another change of direction, Jolie also wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the drama By the Sea, alongside her husband, Brad Pitt.
Jolie’s newest venture – First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers – is a film that will premiere on Netflix and is currently in post-production. First They Killed My Father was written, directed and produced by Jolie, and focuses on a human rights activist recounting her suffering under the Khmer Rouge. Not staying idle for long, it’s now being reported that Jolie is in early talks to play a role in Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Murder on the Orient Express.
A long established theater, film and TV actor and director, Branagh is directing the film as well as starring as Agatha Christie’s infamous detective, Hercule Poirot (Jolie’s potential role, as reported by Variety, is unknown for now). Branagh is also producing Murder on the Orient Express with Ridley Scott, Simon Kinberg and Mark Gordon. Michael Schaefer and Aditya Sood will also produce in some way. The screenplay comes from Michael Green (who also collaborated with Scott on the upcoming Blade Runner 2), and will be based on Christie’s classic murder mystery novel. As yet, no other casting has been announced.
The original novel, first published in 1934, tells the story of the brutal murder of an American tycoon, who is found in his compartment on board the train. With multiple stab wounds, and his compartment locked from the inside, Poirot is summoned to help solve the case. The train becomes stranded in a snowstorm and the passengers all become suspicious of one another as they realize a murderer is in their midst.
Over the years, Murder on the Orient Express has been adapted multiple times for film and TV, with varying degrees of success, but it’s certainly a firm favorite for many, and considered a classic tale. The most notable adaptations include the 1974 film, starring Albert Finney as Poirot, the 1991 TV movie starring Peter Ustinov, and the 2010 TV adaptation which starred David Suchet. The 1974 film version was the most critical and commercial of these successes, earning six Academy Award nominations (including a win for Ingrid Bergman in the Best Supporting Actress category).
There is no word yet on which role Jolie may be circling, but there is a plethora of female characters which she could easily embody, including Mrs. Harriet Belinda Hubbard, an American socialite played by Lauren Bacall in the 1974 film, Greta Ohlsson (a Swedish missionary), or even Mary Debenahm, a young English woman traveling home after teaching in Baghdad. If Jolie does indeed board the project, she would surely be the first of many A-list names.
As a director and actor, Branagh is currently enjoying huge success with his season at the Garrick theater in London’s West End, where he has already staged and starred in productions of The Winter’s Tale with Dame Judy Dench, and The Painkiller with U.K. comedian, Rob Brydon. Branagh is currently staging Romeo and Juliet which has seen him reunite his Cinderella stars, Lily James and Richard Madden, in the titular roles.
As a film director, Branagh has enjoyed success with multiple adaptations of Shakespeare’s works (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Loves Labors Lost, Hamlet, and so on), as well as movies such as Thor, Sleuth, and the aforementioned Cinderella. As an actor, Branagh’s list of stage and screen credits are vast, including roles in Harry Potter, Valkyrie, and Mary Shelley’s Frankestien. He is currently filming the Christopher Nolan directed war drama Dunkirk. Certainly, given his status, Branagh will have no trouble in finding stars willing or wanting to work him.
Murder on the Orient Express is set to open in U.S. theaters on November 22nd, 2017.