There’s a new Poirot in town in this year’s festive Agatha Christie
– The ABC Murders
Put all thoughts of David Suchet, Kenneth Branagh and Peter Ustinov to the back of
John Malkovich’s take on Hercule Poirot is a much darker, grittier portrayal.
In this compelling three-part adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s cleverest whodunits, the ageing Belgian detective is down on his luck and on the receiving end of a series of chilling letters signed simply ‘ABC’.
Soon, he’s on the hunt for a serial killer who is targeting victims around the country in alphabetical succession.
Rupert Grint provides stand-out support as Inspector Crome, who must overcome his grudge against Poirot to help him find the murderer…
TV Times rating: *****
During a break in filming, TV Times sat down with Con Air star John Malkovich, 65, to find out more…
What’s your take on Poirot?
He is quite forgotten. The world has passed him by. You see his backstory and he is an old man with a past. These mysterious letters make this case personal. He wonders, ‘Is this someone I know, because they seem to know me?’ It’s difficult for him.
What’s his relationship with Inspector Crome like?
Poirot’s experienced and Crome isn’t, and there’s what I call a ‘connected disconnect’, but they eventually have respect for each other. I’ve enjoyed working with Rupert; he has a unique quality and he’s funny. It’s been excellent.
Did you read The ABC Murders?
Agatha Christie was a gifted storyteller and observant about people’s peculiarities, but many years ago I stopped going back to source material. If we’re going by the book then I can’t do it – I’m not 5 feet 4 or Belgian! But Sarah’s scripts are ‘recolourisations’ that have a palette that’s modern but also respectful of the period. I’d like to do more.
Is it daunting playing a character who is so well known?
There are lots of versions already and they all have different points of view, and some seriously good actors have done it before – David Suchet and Sir Kenneth Branagh – but that can’t be a reference for me. You have to strike out on a different path and find your own way.
Hercule Poirot is famed for his spectacular moustache but you have a goatee. How much say did you have in his facial hair?
None! I spoke with the director while I was on another job and he said, ‘I want you to look the way you look now.’ Every time Poirot has been done, the moustache has had a lead role and that’s great, but it doesn’t in this interpretation and that’s fine!