Meet the characters and cast
of Murder on the Orient Express
Sort out the passengers from the suspects in this primer on the characters of Murder on the Orient Express and the actors who portray them.
Having solved a complex case for the British Army in Istanbul, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is called back to London to work on a case. With the assistance of an old acquaintance, he books passage on the Orient Express, where he encounters one of his most vexing cases yet.
Of the more than 40 Poirot novels and short stories, David Suchet has starred in adaptations of most of them, and aspires to finish Agatha Christie's Poirot canon. The first Hercule Poirot episode aired in the UK in 1989, and Suchet has been playing the iconic Belgian sleuth ever since. Suchet began acting in his teens, encouraged by his mother, a former professional dancer and actress. A member of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, Suchet went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, subsequently joining England's Royal Shakespeare Company in 1973 and spending 13 years there. Suchet returned to theater in 1998 in Amadeus, seen both in London and on Broadway, receiving a Tony nomination for his work. On Masterpiece, Suchet has been seen in The Secret Agent, Henry VIII and The Way We Live Now, among others. In 2010, Suchet starred in a London revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons alongside Hercule Poirot co-star Zoë Wanamaker. Suchet was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2002.
Pierre Michel is the conductor of the Orient Express.
French actor Denis Menochet has been seen in films such as Inglourious Basterds and Robin Hood.
An old acquaintance of Hercule Poirot and director of the Orient Express, Xavier Bouc books Poirot passage on the train and offers his perspective on all the passengers.
French actor Serge Hazanavicius has appeared in French films and on television and stage.
An obstetrician by training, Dr. Constantine helps Poirot investigate the murder aboard the Orient Express.
Samuel West may be most recognized for his role in the film Howard's End although he's appeared in other high-profile films such as Notting Hill with Julia Roberts and Iris with Judi Dench. The son of British actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales (best known as Sybil on Fawlty Towers) West studied physics then English at Oxford University. He's also appeared on the British stage in productions such as The Sea (directed by Sam Mendes) and Hamlet at England's Royal Shakespeare Company.
Edward Masterman is the butler to ruthless American businessman Samuel Ratchett. Having served in the army, Masterman sought a similar stature in civilian life by becoming a servant.
Hugh Bonneville is familiar to Masterpiece audiences for roles in Daniel Deronda, Miss Austen Regrets, Filth, The Cazalets, Madame Bovary, Doctor Zhivago and Miss Marple: The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side among others. He studied theology at England's Cambridge University and made his professional debut as an understudy for Ralph Fiennes in a 1986 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bonneville has remained active in London's theater scene. On film, Bonneville has appeared in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Notting Hill and Iris, among others. Bonneville is currently at work developing his first feature film as a producer, and will be seen in Masterpiece's 2011 production Downton Abbey.
Antonio Foscarelli is an Italian businessman working in the motor trade.
Born in Oxford, England, Joseph Mawle received a scholarship to Britain's Bristol Old Vic Theatre School despite having impaired hearing as a result of a viral infection suffered as a teenager. He has regularly been seen on British television, as well as in the Masterpiece productions of Persuasion alongside Sally Hawkins, The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton and Foyle's War.
In his late 20s, American Hector MacQueen is the personal assistant to Samuel Ratchett. MacQueen is good with languages and paid well for his services.
Brian J. Smith
Born in Texas, Brian J. Smith graduated from New York City's Juilliard School, which he describes a "boot camp for artists." Smith almost joined the military twice while struggling to find work as an actor, but has since worked on stage, television and in film. He has appeared on stage in Three Changes, opposite Dylan McDermott and Maura Tierney, and on Broadway in Come Back, Little Sheba. On television, he has a recurring role on SGU Stargate Universe.
A German maid, Hildegarde Schmidt is accompanying Princess Dragomiroff on the Orient Express.
The daughter of two actors, Susanne Lothar was born in Germany, where she later studied drama. Since then she has appeared in numerous German stage, television and film productions. Her film credits include The White Ribbon, which won the prestigious Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe award in 2009.
Greta Ohlsson is a Swedish missionary who prays fervently for the protection of children.
Canadian born actress Marie-Josée Croze has appeared in a variety of international films including the thriller Tell No One, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Steven Spielberg's Munich. Her performance in The Barbarian Invasions won her a Cannes International Film Festival award for best actress.
Mary Debenham is a governess who is spotted by Hercule Poirot with Colonel John Arbuthnot in Istanbul. Later, Mary and Colonel Arbuthnot are on the same Orient Express trip as Poirot.
Jessica Chastain grew up in California and began her stage career at a young age as a dancer. By age 13, she had joined a dance troupe, subsequently turning to theater. After studying at New York City's Juilliard School, she began working in television with appearances on ER, Veronica Mars and Law and Order. Chastain has a number of high-profile film projects slated for release, including The Debt (alongside Helen Mirren), Wild Salome (with Al Pacino) Coriolanus (co-starring with Ralph Fiennes) and The Tree of Life (alongside Brad Pitt).
A ruthless American businessman, Samuel Ratchett is accompanied on the train by his assistant Hector MacQueen and butler Edward Masterman. When Ratchett offers Hercule Poirot money in return for protection, Poirot refuses.
Known for making a distinct impression in any role, Toby Jones has appeared in films such as The Painted Veil, Amazing Grace, Frost/Nixon and W. Masterpiece viewers will recognize him from Aristocrats, The Way We Live Now and The Old Curiosity Shop. Born to parents who were also both actors, Jones grew up with some wariness of the acting profession. He studied drama with the intent of becoming a director, but was later drawn back into acting. Jones started with minor roles in British film and television, and when his bit part in the Julia Roberts film Notting Hill was cut, he successfully parlayed the experience into a monologue calling Missing Reel. In 2002, Jones gained attention for lending his vocal talents to the elf Dobby in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. His first big-screen leading role was as Truman Capote in Infamous, opposite Sandra Bullock. Jones will be seen in the upcoming films The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn and Captain America: The First Avenger.
Caroline Hubbard is a pushy American woman, often expressing a quip or complaint during the course of the train ride.
Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Barbara Hershey has had a career that has spanned five decades. Born Barbara Herzstein, Hershey grew up in Hollywood and aspired to be an actress from a young age. At age 17, Hershey appeared alongside Sally Field in several episodes of Gidget, Her extensive film credits include: The Last Temptation of Christ, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Right Stuff, Hoosiers, The Portrait of a Lady and Beaches. Hershey will appear in Black Swan alongside Natalie Portman. On Masterpiece, she's been seen in Daniel Deronda.
Countess Andrenyi is the young wife of Hungarian diplomat Count Andrenyi.
Born in the USSR, Elena Satine has been seen on American television in programs such as Cold Case and Melrose Place. Satine made her movie debut in Ripple Effect alongside Forest Whitaker, and will appear in Just Go With It starring Jennifer Anniston, Adam Sandler and Nicole Kidman.
Hungarian diplomat Count Andrenyi is aboard the Orient Express with his young wife.
Stanley Weber has appeared on stage, film and television in his native France. He played Louis XV in the French television production Louis XV: The Black Sun.
The elderly Princess Dragomiroff is accompanied on the Orient Express by her German maid Hildegarde Schmidt.
Eileen Atkins has been one of England's most revered actresses for more than fifty years. She began entertaining people at the age of seven when her parents sent her out to sing and tap dance in clubs. Atkins has performed on stage all over London and, in 1989, toured the world in A Room of One's Own, an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's collected lectures. A mainstay of many Masterpiece productions through the years, Atkins credits include Cranford, Return to Cranford, Sons and Lovers, Madame Bovary and Bertie and Elizabeth, although she is perhaps best known as the co-creator with Jean Marsh of Upstairs, Downstairs. Her film credits include Gosford Park, Cold Mountain, The Hours and Robin Hood to name but a few, and she wrote the screenplay for the 1997 film Mrs. Dalloway. Among the myriad awards she has received, she was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1990, and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2001.
Hercule Poirot first encounters Colonel John Arbuthnot and governess Mary Debenham while in Istanbul, and later encounters the mysterious Arbuthnot on the train. What secret is this military man trying so desperately to hide?
Born in Liverpool, England, the youngest of four, David Morrissey left school at 16 after the death of his father and joined a youth theater. He later trained at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and has since appeared in theatrical productions in England at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre among others. His Masterpiece credits include Sense and Sensibility and Our Mutual Friend. Morrissey has been seen in films such as The Other Boleyn Girl and The Reaping, and recently directed and co-wrote Don't Worry About Me, inspired by his hometown. Morrissey founded the charity CAST (Creative Arts Schools Trust), which provides creative courses for young people worldwide. Morrissey is married to novelist Esther Freud, great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud.