Willem Dafoe is latest addition to ‘Murder on the Orient Express' all-star cast

US actor Willem Dafoe

Kenneth Branagh's movie adaptation of the famous Agatha Christie novel has a new Hollywood star onboard. Willem Dafoe is the latest name to join the already star-studded cast of this latest big-screen version, due in theaters at the end of the year.

Published in 1934, "Murder on the Orient Express" is without a doubt one of Agatha Christie's best-known crime novels, following Hercule Poirot as he investigates a most unusual case. Needing to return to London, the famous Belgian sleuth boards the Orient Express in Istanbul. In the middle of the night, a wealthy American passenger is found dead in his compartment, stabbed 12 times.

Hercule Poirot soon takes charge of the investigation, questioning the train's passengers and inspecting the evidence with the help of fellow passengers Doctor Constantine and M. Bouc, Poirot's friend and director of the Orient Express line.

Familiar faces

Kenneth Branagh has signed up an impressive cast for his return to directing, two years after "Cinderella." The filmmaker, who also takes the film's lead role as Hercule Poirot, is joined by a host of familiar faces from the movie world.

Ratchett, the victim, is played by Johnny Depp, and Michelle Pfeiffer steps into the role of Mrs Hubbard, a flamboyant American widow. Rising "Star Wars" star, Daisy Ridley, plays English governess Mary Debenham, Judi Dench steps onboard as Russian princess Natalia Dragominoff, and Josh Gad plays Ratchett's secretary, Hector McQueen. Now, Willem Dafoe has been named to the role of Gerhard Hardman, a New York detective posing as a typewriter ribbon salesman. Penelope Cruz is also set to star in an as yet unconfirmed role.

Also on the cast are Leslie Odom Jr as Doctor Constantine, Tom Bateman as M. Bouc, Sergei Polunin and Lucy Boyton as Hungarian Count Andrenyi and his wife, and Marwan Kenzari as French train conductor Pierre Michel.

Echoing Sidney Lumet

This new big-screen adaptation of "Murder on the Orient Express" echoes the 1974 Sidney Lumet version, which featured several big stars of the day, including Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins and Albert Finney. The movie was nominated for six Oscars but Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman was the only star to lift a gong for her supporting role.

Kenneth Branagh began filming the movie in London in November, based on a screenplay written by Michael Green, who also penned several films due in theaters this year ("Blade Runner 2049," "Alien: Covenant," "Logan"). "Murder on the Orient Express," produced by Ridley Scott, is due out November 22 in the USA.