Kenneth Branagh was dying to play this trick on his Murder on the Orient Express cast
The cast of Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptation Murder on the Orient Express boasts an array of acting luminaries, including Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, and Derek Jacobi, who is one of the Branagh’s personal heroes. “You know, 40 years ago, I stood at the back of the theatre watching Derek play Hamlet at the New Theatre, Oxford, and afterwards I waited at the stage door to get his autograph,” says Branagh, who in addition to directing the new version of Christie’s classic whodunnit is also playing her famous detective, Hercule Poirot.
Despite the respect Branagh felt for his thespian colleagues, the filmmaker admits he was tempted to play on his cast a trick which, according to legend, the late Robert Altman had played on his cast during the shoot for Gosford Park. That 2001 drama was another period piece with a star-studded lineup whose membership included Maggie Smith, Ryan Phillipe, Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, and Charles Dance.
“I don’t know if you know this story, but several friends have told me about this,” says Branagh, who starred in Altman’s 1998 film, The Gingerbread Man. “They all did their first scene together for the first time in a room. They called ‘Cut!’ Altman quickly opened the door, stuck his head in, and said, ‘Everybody was brilliant, except one of you. We’re gonna go again!’ I was desperate to use that line, but I was too scared.”
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Actress Lucy Boynton on Netflix’s Artful Ghost Story, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
If you’re looking for a scare this Hallo-weekend that’s a little more nuanced than something with “chainsaw” or “massacre” in the title, Netflix has you covered. The streaming giant’s latest original movie, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, is like an “artful ghost story” according to one of its leads, actress Lucy Boynton.
“Everyone had kind of labeled it as a horror film, but it’s much more than that,” says Boynton, who shares the screen with The Affair’s Ruth Wilson. “It takes a look at the existence of ghosts in a deeper, more emotional way.” Think spooky, rather than slasher (but still just as jumpy).
The film follows Lily, a nurse (Ruth Wilson) who moves into a remote country home to take care of Iris, an elderly woman that is also a best-selling author of ghost stories (Paula Prentiss). The twist? The house has a pretty scary story of its own—and that’s where Boynton comes in. “I play Polly Parsons, a character from one of Iris’ books,” says Boyton. “But it turns out that Polly also once lived in the house that Iris and Lily are living in now. And without giving too much away, they realize that her spirit has never really left.”
Even though Boynton has logged her fair share of time on supernatural movie sets (she has another thriller called The Blackcoat’s Daughter in the pipeline), she says she still scares easily when the cameras aren’t rolling. “This was one of those eerie, dark sets,” she says. “Sometimes it would feel completely normal and then sometimes you would come back from lunch and see a wall smeared with fake blood. I would be like, ‘Guys, really?’ I used to sort of avoid watching horror movies, but with this film and others like Rosemary’s Baby or Don’t Look Now, I’ve learned that it can be more about a human experience that turns horrific, rather than empty violence and slashes. I’ve definitely found the beauty in it.”