The 1974 version of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express featured one of the most memorable all-star ensembles ever assembled for a movie, including a handful of Oscar-winners. When 2017's new version of the Christie story was announced, the question was whether 20th Century Fox could put together a cast to rival the one that graced the screen back in 1974.
So far, Fox is doing its best to ensure that their new take on Murder on the Orient Express will be as jam-packed with big-name actors as the previous version. Academy Award winning performers Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz were already on-board, along with multi-time nominees Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp. The roster of stars is still growing as we speak.
The latest Oscar-nominated actor to lend his talents to the new version of Murder on the Orient Express is Willem Dafoe, reports Deadline. Dafoe will reportedly tackle the role of detective Gerhard Hardman for Murder director Kenneth Branagh (who will also go in front of the camera as iconic detective Hercule Poirot, a role memorably tackled by Albert Finney in '74). The novel and 1974 movie, concerning a bevy of unusual characters embroiled in a murder-mystery aboard the title train, both contain a detective character named Cyrus Hardman but not Gerhard, so perhaps there has been a name change.
Dafoe has two career Oscar nominations, for Platoon and Shadow of the Vampire, but has yet to win. It's hard to go wrong with casting Dafoe, especially if the goal is to add a note of creepy menace. Dafoe is one of the best character actors in movies and always brings something interesting to the table.
The cast list for the new Murder is shaping up to be pretty impressive, as it also includes Star Wars star Daisy Ridley and other big names such as Josh Gad and Michael Peña. It may fall short of the 1974 version in terms of award winners (two as opposed to five), but there's no denying the considerable amount of talent behind the project. There's still time for the new movie to add more prestigious actors and give the original cast a run for its money, so it will be interesting to see if anyone else comes aboard before production begins. Branagh tried adding Angelina Jolie, but she reportedly passed.
Some may question the necessity to remake a classic title like Murder on the Orient Express, but the all-star ensemble should be enough to generate interest with the movie reaches theaters this December. That, coupled with a release date in the thick of awards season, should be enough to convince audiences it will be a worthwhile endeavor and intriguing mystery picture that could add some trophies to these actors' mantles.
- Murder on the Orient Express (2017) release date: Nov 10, 2017