Based on the Agatha Christie novel, “Murder on the Orient Express” is directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh who also stars in film playing Christie’s legendary detective, Hercule Poirot. The movie’s stellar ensemble cast includes Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi and Willem Dafoe, all playing passengers on the train.
The setting for the thrilling and visually breathtaking detective story is a train ride through Europe – from Istanbul to London. Taking the audience back in time to the Golden Age of rail travel, the cracking murder mystery is directed with ingenuity and flair by Kenneth Branagh as one passenger is murdered, the rest are suspects. It’s up to Poirot to uncover the truth.
One of the suspects, Princess Natalia Dragomiroff, played by acclaimed actress Judi Dench, is a Russian royalty who seems to have a hard time coming on to the train, because it is somehow feels beneath her standards. “I think Judi Dench had a whale of a time playing Dragomiroff’s imperious, contemptuous, superior arrogance and disgust at most of what went on around her, which was never as she liked it,” offers Branagh.
“Never quick enough. Never soon enough. Never hot enough. Never nice enough. And when she wasn’t complaining about what wasn’t right, she was demanding that her dogs be looked after. It allows for a chance to see a character who is very stern, and very forbidding, to also be naughty and funny. Judi Dench is somebody who can play all of those things with great delight. At the same time as formidable as she is funny, she can also be very secret and hidden,” continues Branagh.
Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne was honored to create costumes for Judi Dench. “The great thing about Judi is that she has these amazing twinkly eyes, and playing a Princess, she would have a lot of jewelry, that she had managed to get out of Russia during the revolution and had maybe repurposed,” says Byrne. “I took quite a simple line on her clothes so that the jewelry and her eyes could really sparkle.”
Since playing Ophelia in ‘Hamlet’ at The Old Vic Theatre almost 60 years ago, Judi Dench has garnered wide popular and critical admiration for a career marked by outstanding performances in both classical and contemporary roles. She has won numerous major awards – including an Academy Award, ten BAFTA Awards and a record eight Laurence Olivier Awards – for work on both stage and screen, and in recognition of her many achievements she received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1970, became a DBE (Dame of the British Empire) in 1988, and in 2005 was awarded a Companion of Honour. Dame Judi is recognised globally for her legendary role as M in seven James Bond films, from ‘Goldeneye’ to ‘Skyfall’.
“Murder on the Orient Express” opens November 29 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.