All Aboard. Every Famous Person in Hollywood Will Kill Johnny Depp in 'Murder on the Orient Express'
We Were This Close to a 'Tourist' Reunion

Vanity Fair, 29 September 2016
By Joanna Robinson
Thamks, Jane

Since news broke that Johnny Depp was in talks to appear in Kenneth Branagh’s 'Murder on the Orient Express', details of his role as well as the rest of the cast have been announced. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Depp’s part won’t be all that large as he’s playing the murder victim, Ratchett.

As to who might have bumped him off? Branagh’s detective, Poirot, will have to choose between 'Hamilton' star Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot; Michelle Pfeiffer as Mrs. Hubbard, a glamorous and opinionated passenger with a secret; Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham, a working-class woman in love with Arbuthnot; Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff, who hails from Russian royalty; and Michael Peña as as a Cuban passenger named Marquez. Pfieffer is likely playing the role that was originally meant for Angelina Jolie. Tom Bateman, Lucy Boynton, and Branagh favorite Derek Jacobi round out the all-star cast.

Early in August, Angelina Jolie exited 'Murder on the Orient Express' — the lavish Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Agatha Christie’s most famous novel. At the time, Variety reported that Branagh was “trying to interest a number of other big-name stars” — and though we doubt he’s up for the same part Jolie was, Johnny Depp is now in talks to climb on board.

We won’t spoil 'Murder on the Orient Express' for anyone who doesn’t know their crime fiction, but suffice it to say that a successful adaptation depends on there being a number of persons of interest outside of Branagh’s lead detective, Hercule Poirot. The 1974 adaptation featured the likes of Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, Albert Finney, Anthony Perkins, and Vanessa Redgrave, which, at the time, was a dazzling array of star power. Variety now names Charlize Theron as a possible contender to replace Jolie, and Deadline, which initially reported the Depp news, cautions that things are “moving fast” when it comes to casting the picture.

Deadline has no information on who Depp might be playing, and — given the actor’s fondness for trying on accents, wigs, and facial hair — it’s really anyone’s guess. Colonel John Arbuthnot, the upright British military man? Or Fräulein Hildegarde Schmidt, the Germanic cook? Hard to say, really. But what we do know is that with Jolie’s exit, we’ll be deprived of 'The Tourist' reunion we’ve all been clamoring for. On the acting front, Jolie only has the Maleficent sequel — which she signed on to over a year ago—on her plate. Presumably, she’s busy elsewhere.

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