For a fictional character to be recognised as the greatest detective in the world is a tribute to the skill of Agatha Christie... and the man who plays him.
it has probably been said before, but it bears repeating: David Suchet is a gentleman through and through and an interviewer s dream. Had I spoken to him 30 minutes later, however, it would have been Hercule Poirot who replied, another gentleman but one from a totally different era. By then, the moustache would have gone on, the character would have kicked in and Poirot would have been in full spate. Once he is in full costume David Suchet recedes into the background and Poirot takes over. It is something over which David has no choice, he says. When you are filming, you can t just drop in and out of character, especially someone so extreme as Poirot. I have to be bang on for that character just as soon as the director shouts action . When the moustache goes on, Suchet dons Poirot like a comfortable coat.
It's been five years since Agatha Christie's most popular detective exercised his "little gray cells" on a good whodunit yarn. At 7 p.m. Sunday, Hercule Poirot gets back to business. A&E brings him out of retirement to solve Christie's famous case of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It's the first of two new Poirot movies, and both A&E and David Suchet hope there'll be more. Suchet said he actually had trouble getting back into the walk and the talk. But, in Roger Ackroyd, Suchet's still got it -- the consummate Poirot. Even though this case is not one of his all-time teasers, it's great to have him back. It's also great to see him reunited with his perfect partner-in-detection, Philip Jackson's Chief Inspector Japp. Faithful Poirot fans are bound to miss Hugh Fraser's Captain Hastings, his slightly muddle-headed friend and associate. He's off running a ranch in South America. Pauline Moran's Miss Lemon, Poirot's splendid secretary, isn't there, either. Poirot has closed his London office and retired to the picture pretty village of Kings Abbott. He is happily tending his garden when his old friend Roger Ackroyd is murdered, right down the road, and a curious journal becomes the clue to nail the guilty party from a cast of prime suspects.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which aired on A&E, marked the return of dapper detective Hercule Poirot to the television screen after a five-year hiatus. In films, Agatha Christie's most famous creation has been portrayed by a number of actors, ranging from Charles Laughton to Peter Ustinov, but none have inhabited the character so completely and compassionately as British actor David Suchet. Suchet's career began onstage with roles in Shakespeare standards, then gradually branched into feature films ( Executive Decision, The Falcon and the Snowman, and A Perfect Murder, among others). He finds himself in front of the footlights again as Antonio Salieri in the current Broadway production of Amadeus, but to mystery aficionados around the world, his best-known disguise involves a wax mustache, generous padding, and a French accent. He has appeared in 45 adaptations of Christie's stories, which are rerun on PBS and A&E. Suchet chatted with Amazon.com's Larisa Lomacky Moore about a curious "little man" named Hercule Poirot.
Jo Litson // Sunday Telegraph
InÂ 1985, David Suchet played Inspector Japp inÂ aÂ film ofÂ Agatha Christieâ€™s Thirteen atÂ Dinner with Peter Ustinov asÂ Poirot. Fortunately heÂ wasnâ€™t very good. Had heÂ been, heÂ may never have taken onÂ the role ofÂ Poirot himself.
Suchet, ofÂ course, played Christieâ€™s fastidious little Belgian detective inÂ 74Â telemovies over 25Â years, winning millions ofÂ fans around the world.
InÂ between his Poirot commitments, heÂ returned regularly toÂ the stage though heÂ wasnâ€™t able toÂ undertake aÂ long run. However, after Poirotâ€™s death inÂ the final episode last year, Suchet now has the time toÂ tour internationally inÂ aÂ play byÂ Roger Crane called The Last Confession, currently inÂ Australia. Set inÂ the Vatican itÂ isÂ billed asÂ â€śaÂ thrillerâ€ť set around the sudden (some think suspicious) death ofÂ Pope John Paul IÂ inÂ 1978.
Next, heÂ plays Lady Bracknell inÂ Oscar Wildeâ€™s â€śtrivial comedy for serious peopleâ€ť The Importance ofÂ Being Earnest inÂ Londonâ€™s West End.
During aÂ quick media stop-over inÂ Sydney before the start ofÂ the tour inÂ Perth, the thoroughly charming, genial British actor took time toÂ talk about saying goodbye toÂ Poirot, his current role inÂ The Last Confession, his conversion toÂ Christianity, Twitter and the chance toÂ play Lady Bracknell.
David Suchet, is probably best known as the eccentrically observant detective Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie novels. Suchet is not the first to play Poirot, but he has defined the character in ways that other actors haven't broached. Suchet never expected his Poirot run to be more than a year, but now more than a decade later he is still reveling in his love of the quirky, little man. Recently I spoke to Suchet about how he feels defining a fictional personality, his thoughts on Agatha Christie, and how he developed that kooky, little walk.
When you were first approached with the role of Hercule Poirot, given that other people had played it before you, what was your greatest challenge in bringing something new?
DS: Well, the first thing I did was to remind myself exactly how he was played, in a "Poirot" with Peter Ustinov [Thirteen at Dinner]. He played Hercule and I played Inspector Japp. I think it has to go down on record publicly that it was probably the worst performance I've ever given in my life, but having said that, I watched Albert Finney doing Murder on the Orient Express and other "Poirots." I can't remember their names off hand, but the two famous ones, of course, [are] Albert Finney, although he only did one, and Peter Ustinov, who has done very, very many.
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Actor David Suchet has had his turn on the stage, television and the big screen. But despite roles in many films and more than a decade with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Suchet is best known as Agatha Christieâ€™s well-loved but somewhat disagreeable Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. He first starred as the mustachioed sleuth on British television more than 20 years ago. The latest Blu-ray release featuring Suchet, Murder On The Orient Express, has just come out. Though heâ€™s been playing Poirot for more than two decades, Suchet still remembers his very first scene as the detective. â€śThe camera was on my very shiny patent leather shoes,â€ť he tells NPRâ€™s Neal Conan. Then, slowly, it panned up his legs to reveal his striped trousers, morning coat, gray waistcoat, bow tie, wing collar and â€śof course, the famous mustache.â€ť
David Suchet joins us now from the BBC and Broadcasting House in London. And thanks very much for being with us today.
Mr. SUCHET: Hello.
After aÂ five-year absence, David Suchet isÂ back asÂ Agatha Christieâ€™s beloved Belgian sleuth.
Before our conversation even began, David Suchet had aÂ mystery toÂ unravel.
Oh, itâ€™s not one fraught with the sort ofÂ gasp-inducing revelations heâ€™s accustomed toÂ tackling asÂ Agatha Christieâ€™s eminent investigator Hercule Poirot. But heâ€™s asÂ intent onÂ straightening out the phone number mix-up that prevented our originally scheduled interview asÂ Poirot isÂ about bringing aÂ killer toÂ justice. ItÂ makes sense that Suchet would share Poirotâ€™s inquisitive mind. IfÂ people who live together can start toÂ resemble each other, then Suchet should definitely share some traits with the fussbudget Belgian sleuth heâ€™s spent soÂ much time with over the past decade.
TVÂ Times talks toÂ David Suchet onÂ his enduring friendship with co-star Zoe Wanamaker and preparing toÂ say farewell toÂ Poirot...
IsÂ itÂ fun having Zoe back playing Ariadne Oliver inÂ this new adventure?
â€śAlways! Zoe andÂ I have been such good friends for aÂ very long time. IÂ was absolutely delighted when she first became Ariadne [inÂ 2005â€™s Cards onÂ the Table], and whenever she isÂ set toÂ appear, IÂ look forward toÂ itÂ immensely. ItÂ isÂ also great for Poirot toÂ have aÂ sparring partner, and Ariadne certainly provides that.â€ť
IsÂ your relationship inÂ any way similar off screen?
â€śNo, not inÂ any way. Weâ€™re out ofÂ the roles asÂ soon asÂ filming finishes and goÂ back toÂ being just dear friends.â€ť
photo by James Braund / Getty // The New York Times
Hope Reeves // The New York Times
The actor talks toÂ Hope Reeves about embracing Christianity, joining Twitter and saying goodbye toÂ Hercule Poirot.
After 25Â years onÂ the air, â€śAgatha Christieâ€™s Poirotâ€ť recently broadcast the final five episodes inÂ the United States onÂ Acorn TV. IÂ read that you filmed the final episode first.
ToÂ have him die atÂ the same momentÂ I finished the role would have been aÂ very negative thing for meÂ toÂ goÂ through. SoÂ IÂ asked the producers ifÂ I could film him dying first. Then IÂ would leave him asÂ I want toÂ remember him, alive and kicking.
Did you mourn for him?
Filming his actual death was the hardest day ofÂ the whole 25Â years. Part ofÂ meÂ died with him.
David Suchet believes Agatha Christie probably MET Hercule Poirot orÂ someone very like him inÂ real life.
â€śIÂ think she found him, really,â€ť Suchet says inÂ anÂ accent one never would mistake for that ofÂ the little Belgian detective, perhaps Christieâ€™s most popular character. â€śThe Belgians were refugees inÂ the southwest ofÂ England where (Christie) was aÂ dispensing nurse (during War WarÂ I), and she would have met Belgians there.
â€śShe might have found someone asÂ wonderfully eccentric and irritating yet charming asÂ Poirot,â€ť heÂ says.
Only Christie would know better than Suchet who, for six years, donned aÂ padded costume and artificial facial hair toÂ play Poirot with such affection and conviction asÂ toÂ beÂ able toÂ convince those ofÂ us who watched that heÂ truly was the prissy little man with the overactive gray cells.