From Jaws to The Exorcist to Jurassic Park, many of the greatest films in history have been based on books. Up until the last few decades, one of the most prolifically adapted authors out there was British crime novelist Agatha Christie, author of acclaimed stories like And Then There Were None and Endless Night. From 1928’s The Passing of Mr. Quinn onward, nearly 40 feature films have been adapted from Christie’s works. Dozens of TV movies and series have also been based on Christie’s novels as well.
One outlet that hasn’t gone to the Christie well in quite a while is Hollywood, leaving most of the Christie adaptations to her native Britain or other worldwide markets. That is set to change next year courtesy of Murder on the Orient Express, only the second theatrical film adaptation of the story, following Sidney Lumet’s 1974 award-winning take on the material. Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Thor) and written by Michael Green (Blade Runner 2), Orient Express (2017) is expected to stick to the original story pretty closely. Branagh is also set to star as famous Christie detective Hercule Poirot, the man tasked with solving the titular mobile murder.
Previously, Angelina Jolie was widely reported to be in talks for a unspecified role in Branagh’s Orient Express, although she eventually passed on the project. This was followed by reports that Charlize Theron was interested in coming aboard in the role Jolie backed out of, but there has been no follow-up reporting as to whether a deal is actually coming together or not. Now, a new report by THR says that the latest superstars to begin circling roles in the film are Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer, although the parts they are up for remain a mystery.
Depp and Pfeiffer are no strangers to each other, having worked together on Tim Burton’s 2012 critical and commercial flop Dark Shadows. With a potential prestige picture like Orient Express, Depp likely hopes to try and continue the long-overdue career renaissance that seemed to be on the way following his widely praised turn as mobster James “Whitey” Bulger in 2015’s Black Mass. Sadly, said renaissance quickly ran into a roadblock in the form of Depp subsequently starring in critically ravaged 2016 sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass.
As for Pfeiffer, a ride on Branagh’s Orient Express would represent one of the first film roles for the seemingly quite choosy actress since 2013. Following the agurable peak of her stardom in the 1980s and 90s, Pfeiffer has greatly reduced the amount of work she takes on, having only appeared in 13 films since the year 2000. For a large part though, her choices have proven correct, with many of those 13 – such as Stardust and Hairspray – doing quite well with critics, audiences, or both. For the sake of Agatha Christie fans, here’s hoping her instincts are right once again.
Murder on the Orient Express rolls into theaters on November 22, 2017.