Tuesday, December 11, 2007

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Casting Coup: Hercule Poirot's Christmas

*This one's from one of the Hollmann Holiday Extravangaza posts, my annual Christmas celebration. It is only one of two times that I have made a Casting Coup for an Agatha Christie. These are not the original pictures, by the way, as my hot-linking craziness from the LJ days had to be dispensed with.*

I know a few of you out there have never before read Hercule Poirot's Christmas. Thus, the following casting session may be confusing, or meaningless. However, I love Agatha Christie, and casts, and Christmas, and last time I checked, this was the HOLLMANN Holiday Extravaganza. So, allow me to be as selfish as Scrooge pre-Marley and Marley pre-death, and present my cast for the Agatha Christie classic Hercule Poirot's Christmas.

Synopsis (from us.agathachristie.com):

It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning, but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man...


Colonel Johnson
Who is He: Chief Constable of Yorkshire and friend of Poirot's. "I know criminals. Chicken-livered, most of them."
Originally played by: Nobody. In the TV version, Colonel Johnson was replaced with series (and short stories) regular Chief Inspector James Japp, who took the case for Scotland Yard with little or no argument from the locals, curiously enough. He was played by Philip Jackson.

My Choice: The great Bill Nighy, always an able supporting man, and who would work wonders with this small yet humorous role.

Superintendent Sugden
Who is He: Superintendent of the Middleshire Police. Johnson says he has little imagination.
Originally played by: Mark Tandy. Much younger than this photo, and with a mustache.

My Choice: Toby Stephens, who has at least four kick-ass roles to his credit: Bond villain (Die Another Day), murder suspect (Poirot: Five Little Pigs), Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre), and Maggie Smith's son. Only, he too needs a mustache. He's the one on the left.

Better look:

Anywho, moving on...


Simeon Lee
Who is He: The patriarch of the Lee family, with legitimate and illegitimate family members all over the place. How much of a dick is he? He gathered his family together for Christmas just to psychologically torture them for his own amusement. He gets his throat sliced open.
Originally played by: Vernon Dobtcheff, who was also in Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express.

My Choice: An aging family patriarch with a wicked sense of humor? Hmm, let me think.


Alfred Lee
Who is He: The eldest son. Kind of a pushover, since he still lives at home and serves his father like a Nubian slave. Hates his brother Harry. Simeon hated him because he was boring.
Originally played by: Simon Roberts.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee Kenneth Branagh

Lydia Lee
Who is She: Alfred's wife, "an energetic, lean greyhound of a woman", stronger than her husband. She at least tells Simeon what she really thinks of him.
Originally played by: Catherine Rabett, who was on "You Rang, M'Lord?", my favorite Britcom of all time. More importantly, she played Elizabeth in Frankenstein Unbound.

My Choice: She even looks like an energetic, lean greyhound of a woman. Academy Award Winner Cate Blanchett.

George Lee
Who is He: An MP, if you can believe it, which means he's pretty high up on the social food chain! Also, he's a bit of a moron, cheap, and just dull as dirt.
Originally played by: Eric Carte, who has not changed a bit since 1994.

My Choice: I tend to typecast, giving the role of a cheap snob to someone who can play snobs really well. Ladies and gentlemen, the manager of the Spice Girls, Richard E. Grant.

Magdalene Lee
Who is She: George's much younger wife, a blonde beauty with a blank expression. She spends like it's going out of style. Everyone thinks George a fool for marrying her.
Originally played by: Andree Bernard, who is still quite a beauty.

My Choice: Another beautiful, sexually-charged blonde, Sienna Miller.

David Lee
Who is He: The youngest son, he has yet to recover from his mother's death twenty years ago. Coming back home reverts him to a childlike state.
Originally played by: Nobody. His character, perhaps the most complex and interesting of all, was cut out of the film.
My Choice: The youngest guy here, Ewan McGregor.

Hilda Lee
Who is She: David's plain wife, extremely devoted to her husband, in an almost scary amount.
Originally played by: Well, without David, there could be no Hilda.
My Choice: Plain but with an extreme force of character, Academy Award Nominee Samantha Morton.

Harry Lee
Who is He: The prodigal son, a dishonest swindler and forger of cheques. Naturally, his father's favorite.
Originally played by: Brian Gwaspari. This is an old picture.

My Choice: Dougray Scott, whom you may remember from Ever After, starring Drew Barrymore. Or Desperate Housewives.


Pilar Estravados
Who is She: The estranged granddaughter of Simeon's dead daughter, who married and lived in Spain. Pilar is beautiful and full of gumption. She also becomes a favorite of her grandfather's.
Originally played by: Sasha Behar, who is actually kind of pretty in an exotic kind of way.

My Choice: The only beautiful Spanish actress old enough, yet young enough, to play this part: Academy Award Nominee Penelope Cruz.

Stephen Farr
Who is He: A mysterious stranger from South Africa, claiming to be the son of an old family friend. But who is he, really? Can he be trusted? He and Pilar are in a constant state of eye-fucking.
Originally played by: Nobody. Again, one of the three most intriguing characters was cut out. Only Pilar remained.
My Choice: That master of accents, Academy Award Nominee Tim Roth.


Who is He: Simeon's valet, a mysterious man who comes and goes as quietly as a mouse. Or a cat, even.
Originally played by: Ayub Khan-Din, and they turned it into a race thing.

My Choice: Let's go crazy, let's go wild, let's go self-referential. I say Poirot star David Suchet!

Who is He: The butler, he has been in the family for something like a thousand years. Knows all the secrets, but would be willing to die if it meant protecting the family.
Originally played by: John Horsley, who co-starred with Catherine Rabett on "You Rang, M'Lord?"

My Choice: The always-dependable 200-year-old Irish actor David Kelly.

I know, I know. This is really what you came to see.

Hercule Poirot
Who is He: The world's greatest detective.
Originally played by: Bunches of people, but in the original Christmas show, it was David Suchet.

My Choice: This is kind of cheating. There's a movie called Murder by the Book, in which Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie have an intellectual duel of sorts. The Poirot in that is the Poirot in mine: Academy Award Nominee Ian Holm.

Don't worry, he's used to playing small people with French accents.

And that is my cast for Hercule Poirot's Christmas.

*It is here that I traditionally do a Christmas song, but the one I chose is so epically long... We're better off without it.*

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