With a mustache like that, you don’t have to be a detective to recognize Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express.
In an exclusive clip from Branagh’s upcoming whodunnit mystery based on Agatha Christie’s classic novel, Poirot’s unique facial hair is a dead giveaway for Daisy Ridley’s Mary Debenham, who introduces herself to the famous Belgian detective while sitting next to him on a dock.
“I know you’re mustache from the papers!” Debenham says with a smile. While she gets his name wrong (confusing Hercule for Hercules), Ridley’s character says, “I’ll forget a name but never a face, not your’s anyway.”
Doing his best Sherlock Holmes impression, Poirot proceeds to use his powers of deduction to make guesses about Debenham’s background, slyly observing from her ticket that she had come from Baghdad, and reasoning from the chalk on her elbows that she was employed as a governess.
Debenham tells the detective that she taught her children geography, explaining, “They may get lost in life, but I’ll be damned if they don’t know where they are.”
Branagh gushed about Ridley to PEOPLE, who he says he finds “remarkable.” “She strikes a balance of confidence without a whiff of over confidence and a kind of humility that’s entirely unformed,” he said.
“She came in and she auditioned and read with such clarity. What I loved about her is there’s strength of spirit without an unforced feistiness. She has a formidable intellect, a ravishing smile and sense of humor and a willingness to learn. She’s got an incredible future.”
In the star-studded film, Poirot is brought on to investigate after a passenger is stabbed to death aboard a luxurious sleeper train heading from Istanbul to Paris. Any of his fellow passengers, from a Russian princess (Judi Dench) to a Spanish missionary (Penélope Cruz), could be the killer.
Published in 1934, the novel became a global blockbuster for Christie, whose works have sold more than two billion copies. The 1974 movie version, starring Albert Finney as Poirot, was nominated for six Oscars, and Ingrid Bergman won Best Supporting Actress.
Branagh, who also directed the film, subtly modernized the story, keeping the sumptuous 1930s setting but choosing a globally diverse cast and steering away from making a “period romp,” he said, to focus on the plot’s dark edge.
Murder, he explained, “is a deeply uncivilized act and it unleashes in its execution the primal, the primitive, the atavistic, and that’s a very dangerous force and it’s right underneath this piece. So that I think that we stayed further away from drawing-room mystery in the sense of a board game, and more into this kind of terrifying encounter with danger and death.”
Also starring Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tom Bateman and Hamilton‘s Leslie Odom Jr., Murder on the Orient Express hits theaters on Nov. 10. Conduct your own investigation with crime scene evidence, clues and suspects online at CluesAreEverywhere.com, where you can also buy tickets for the film.