Kenneth Branagh returns to the role of moustachioed sleuth Hercule Poirot in his second Agatha Christie adaptation as director, Death on the Nile. STACK caught up with him and the all-star cast.

Not that he planned it this way, but Kenneth Branagh’s 2022 has already got off to a most auspicious start with two major movies – his biopic Belfast and the second film in his Agatha Christie series, Death on the Nile.

Delayed almost two years by the pandemic, Death on the Nile’s original 2020 release date was intended to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s first published novel.

If Branagh’s 2017 Murder on the Orient Express seemed like a one-off, then, admittedly, he enjoyed playing the moustache-twirling Belgian detective a little too much.

When STACK asks what tempted him back to Poirot, he says, “I guess we are trying to deepen what we did with Murder on the Orient Express and go produce this entertaining mystery with this incredible group of actors, and delve into a dangerous love triangle, which involves this friendship circle. It invites you to work out who do you love and who do you hate and who do you desire?”

Based on Christie’s 1937 novel, Branagh’s adaptation is a dazzling mystery-thriller about the deadly consequences triggered by obsessive love, with Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a luxury river steamer turning into a desperate search for a murderer after a glamorous couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short.

Set against sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this tale of passion and jealousy features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travellers and enough twists and turns to keep audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement.

Armie Hammer and Gal Gadot lead the A-list cast that includes Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones), Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Sophie Okonedo, Tom Bateman, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Russell Brand and Annette Bening.

Death on the Nile is widely considered to be one of Christie’s most personal stories, and Branagh concurs. “Yeah, it feels personal and heartfelt. I think that she had her own share of heartache to do with love. So I think all the characters have a relationship to love and to lust. The hunger for sex in Agatha Christie’s original story is very powerful, and people are reckless in their pursuit of it. Their greed for physical satisfaction is dangerous to a murderous degree.”

Making a dramatic shift from her Wonder Woman alter-ego, Gal Gadot relished playing Linnet Ridgeway Doyle, a stylish, wealthy heiress from a prominent family. “She’s very self-centred, but at the same time, she has so much heart. She’s very used to having things her way, but it’s lonely at the top, so she has a great void inside,” says Gadot.

“Working with Ken was amazing. I learned so much from his performance, as well as his direction. He’s so prepared and organised and that leaves almost no room for any mistakes. But at the same time, he gives the actors freedom to do whatever we want to do. He has this ability to make everyone feel special, and his charisma and charm go a long way.”

Chatting with Branagh’s eclectic cast, Russell Brand is the only one brave enough to call it how it is. “I think that most people here were probably attracted to the project because of the opportunity to work with Kenneth Branagh. And certainly I was. It was a very fulfilling experience, other than I’m a West Ham fan and Kenneth is very publicly a Tottenham Hotspurs supporter. That created a great deal of tension and, on occasion, violence,” he teases.

The chatty cast fall surprisingly silent when STACK asks who they would choose as their partner in crime in real life. “I would go for Russell,” Hammer eventually relents. “With our powers combined, God knows what kind of crime we would be able to pull off.”

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