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British actor David Suchet

last confession

He has played some complex characters in his time and now David Suchet is tackling another — a Cardinal in Rome grappling with guilt and doubting his faith after the death of his friend, the Pope. The man best known for playing television detective Poirot tells Caroline Bishop why he is so fascinated by the real-life murder mystery he is starring in at the Haymarket, Roger Crane’s Vatican-set thriller The Last Confession...

With his deep, commanding voice, powerful presence and arguably the most expressive eyebrows in the profession, 61-year-old David Suchet has become one of the most respected character actors of his generation across theatre, screen and radio. Right now though, he is as excited as a fresh-faced RADA graduate about to make his debut on the West End stage. “I’m so excited! I’ve waited 38 years for the Theatre Royal Haymarket. I have never played it. All my peers have,” he tells me on the phone from Milton Keynes, where he is on tour. “I’ve always been eyeing with certain envy the most fantastic dressing room that I’m going to have.”

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Perhaps it’s the Da Vinci Code or Dan Brown or a fascination with Opus Dei, but I’ve been stunned by the amazing response," says David Suchet, star of a gripping mystery thriller about to open in the West End following rave reviews at its Chichester premiere last month. “Letters and messages have been pouring in. It’s touched a nerve.”

A pontiff found unexpectedly dead in bed, a crisis of faith and a nest of vipers in the Vatican — these are the fantastical true-life ingredients for Roger Crane’s new play The Last Confession, about Pope John Paul I (Albino Luciano), the “smiling” Italian who occupied St Peter’s throne in 1978 for only 33 days. Just weeks after his triumph as a burly, gravel-voiced Robert Maxwell in the BBC2 drama about the late tycoon, Suchet is tackling another fact-based role that once again centres around a sudden, unexplained death.

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