ITV announces cast and principal photography For Agatha Christie’s iconic Murder on the Orient Express

Productions December 1, 2009

The principal photography has begun for the eagerly anticipated television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.

Acclaimed director, Philip Martin, will bring Agatha Christie’s most popular novel to life. Philip directed the television drama Hawking which was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for best single drama; the final installment of the ITV drama Prime Suspect: The Final Act, which was nominated for a BAFTA and won him the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Drama Special. More recently, Philip was the lead director on Wallander, which won the BAFTA for Best Drama Series and gave him another Emmy nomination.

David Suchet returns as the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, to lead a star studded international cast which includes; Dame Eileen Atkins (BAFTA Best Actress winner for Cranford), Hugh Bonneville (Iris, Lost in Austen), Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life, Jolene), Sam Crane (Desperate Romantics), Marie-Josée Croze (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Serge Hazanavicius (I’ve Loved You So Long), Barbara Hershey (Oscar nominated for The Portrait of a Lady, Emmy winner for A Killing in a Small Town),Toby Jones (W, Frost/Nixon), Susanne Lothar (The Reader, Nemesis), Joseph Mawle (The Passion, Soundproof), Denis Ménochet (Inglourious Basterds), David Morrissey (Red Riding, State of Play), Elaina Satine (Melrose Place, Don’t Look Up), Brian J Smith (Stargate Universe), Stanley Weber (Figaro, The Lady of Monsoreau) and Samuel West (Enron, Desperate Romantics).

David Suchet says: “It’s an honour to have such a wonderful international cast on board for this world famous murder mystery. Writer, Stewart Harcourt, has created an exquisite script. His attention to detail is impeccable.”

Karen Thrussell says: “We’re all incredibly delighted that 21 years after David Suchet first played Hercule Poirot he is now starring in arguably the most ingenious and best loved Agatha Christie title of all time.”

Chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd, Mathew Prichard says: “It’s high time that Agatha Christie fans had another interpretation of my grandmother’s wonderful Murder on the Orient Express to enjoy, and I’m delighted that this one has attracted so many well known names and starts with such a wonderful script.”

Hercule Poirot is visiting Istanbul, having solved a complex case for the British Army, when he witnesses an act of brutal justice on the streets. Relieved when a new case calls him back to London, Poirot’s old acquaintance Xavier Bouc (Serge Hazanavicius), director of the Orient Express, secures him a last minute ticket. Among the eclectic range of passengers are Princess Dragomiroff (Dame Eileen Atkins) and her nervous maid Hildegard Schmidt (Susanne Lothar), English Governess Mary Debenham (Jessica Chastain) and Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson (Marie-Josée Croze).

During his journey on the Orient Express Poirot is approached by ruthless American businessman Samuel Ratchett (Toby Jones) who offers him ten thousand dollars to watch his back, but Poirot refuses. Could Ratchett be fearful of the Italian Antonio Foscarelli (Joseph Mawle), English Colonel John Arbuthnot (David Morrissey), pushy American Mrs Hubbard (Barbara Herhey) or Hungarian diplomat Count Andrenyi (Stanley Weber) and his wife, Countess Andrenyi (Elena Satine)? Poirot awakes the following morning to find the train stuck in a snowdrift and Ratchett dead in his compartment.

Aided by amateur sleuth Dr Constantine (Samuel West), Poirot examines the murder scene and finds a proliferation of clues pointing in opposite directions. He interviews those who last saw Ratchett alive: his manservant Edward Masterman (Hugh Bonneville), personal assistant, Hector MacQueen (Brian J Smith), and conductor Pierre Michel (Denis Ménochet), before realising the true identity of Samuel Ratchett. The evidence seems to point to a mysterious assassin who got on and off the train but Poirot is not convinced. Isolated by the snow and with civilisation falling apart Poirot makes a decision that will change his life forever.

Adapted by Stewart Harcourt (Agatha Christie’s Marple, Dracula) and produced by Karen Thrussell (Agatha Christie’s Marple), Murder on the Orient Express will be filmed on location in Malta and London.

The Poirot films are co-produced by ITV Studios and Agatha Christie Ltd, a Chorion company, and US network WGBH. Mammoth Screen’s Michele Buck and Damien Timmer executive produce Poirot on behalf of ITV Studios. Rebecca Eaton is executive producer for WGBH, with David Suchet as associate producer. ITV Global holds international distribution rights.

Note to editors:
Four new Poirot films; Appointment with Death, The Clocks, Three Act Tragedy and Hallowe’en Party have already been filmed. For up to date scheduling information please refer to the ITV press centre website: www.itv.com/presscentre

PRESS CONTACT:
Natasha Bayford – 0161 952 6209 / natasha.bayford@itv.com
PICTURE CONTACT:
Patrick Smith – 0207 157 3044 / patrick.smith@itv.com