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Murder On The Orient Express Director Made Actors Shoot Their Hardest Scenes On First Day

No one gets special treatment on this train.

It's fair to characterize the upcoming reimagined version of Agatha Christie's classic mystery story Murder on the Orient Express as a star-studded production. With a deep bench including Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Leslie Odom Jr., and director Kenneth Branagh in the lead role of detective Hercule Poirot, it's the sort of ensemble not often seen anymore in a theatrical landscape that's become increasingly characterized by adaptations of comic books, toy properties, and things to waste time with on your phone. But just having a killer cast doesn't mean you have an exciting movie—that takes craft, cleverness, and sometimes, for a director, the willingness to demand things from your actors that they otherwise might not be so keen to do.

The story of Murder on the Orient Express follows the investigator Poirot as he systematically interrogates survivors on the titular train following the mysterious slaying of a fellow passenger in the middle of the night. In shooting the new version of the story, Entertainment Weekly reveals that Branagh made his actors shoot these complex, intense interrogation scenes during their respective first days on the set. 

"I wouldn't ever put somebody in a truly uncomfortable position. But actors have an adrenaline on a first day that can never quite be repeated," the director said. "It brought a nervousness of the right kind."

Not that everyone was pleased with the arrangement, unable to settle into their roles before tackling the most meaty material of the script. According to EW, Penélope Cruz recalled reacting by saying "No, this is a mistake." 

She said, "I asked if we could do it at least a week into the shooting, And Kenneth said no."

It remains to be seen if the hard work will pay off, but it's encouraging to hear the actors won't just be onscreen collecting a paycheck. 

Murder on the Orient Express comes out on Nov. 10. Until then, watch the super-classy trailer for the movie, and check out our list of remakes that are way different than the originals.