Hugh Bonneville would 'walk over hot coals' to do Poirot film with Kenneth Branagh

Watch: Hugh Bonneville discusses his experience on Agatha Christie's Poirot

Hugh Bonneville and Kenneth Branagh have a long history together, they first acted alongside each other while in the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the experience was so fun the actor tells Yahoo UK he'd do anything to work with Branagh again on his Hercule Poirot films.

Bonneville has already worked with one famous Hercule Poirot: David Suchet. The actor starred in ITV's adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, one of the Agatha Christie's best loved stories featuring the Belgian detective that also served as the first book Branagh adapted for the screen as well.

Read more: Who is the best Hercule Poirot on screen?

The actor, who will soon be seen in ITV's Douglas is Cancelled, may have been scrutinised by Poirot once but when asked during his Role Recall interview if he'd like to reunite with Branagh for one of his glitzy Hollywood takes on the detective, Bonneville says: "Oh my goodness. I mean, I'd walk over hot coals to work with Ken."

Hugh Bonneville has shared how he'd love to reunite with his Royal Shakespeare Company castmate Kenneth Branagh in his Poirot movies. (Getty Images/20th Century Pictures)
Hugh Bonneville has shared how he'd love to reunite with his Royal Shakespeare Company castmate Kenneth Branagh in his Poirot movies. (Getty Images/20th Century Pictures)

So far Branagh has portrayed (and directed) Poirot three times in Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, and 2023's A Haunting in Venice. He is the person to whom Bonneville gives the most credit for his TV and film success, because it was the actor-director's decision to cast him in 1994 film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that started it all.

"It was a very important moment in my life looking back on it because I'd never done a film before," Bonneville explains.

"At the time, having played the Laertes to Ken's Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company, he commissioned me to write a film and he said 'have you ever been on a film set?' I said 'no, I just do theatre', and so he said, 'well, why not come along and observe, I can give you a tiny part and you can at least see how a film set works'.

"I owe him a great debt, and it was fascinating seeing him covering all bases. He not only produced and directed, he starred in it as well and was a real force of energy. It was extraordinary watching him on set."

Frankenstein 1995 Real  Kenneth Branagh Kenneth Branagh. Collection Christophel © TriStar Pictures / Japan Satellite Broadcasting
Kenneth Branagh and Hugh Bonneville first worked together at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Branagh then gave Bonneville his first film role in 1994's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. (TriStar Pictures)

Bonneville took on the small role of Schiller, but by being part of the production he was able to watch how Hollywood legend Robert De Niro approached the craft through his performance as The Creation.

"I learned a lot in that first experience, obviously, watching De Niro close up. I only had a few scenes but watching him, the way he worked, rehearsed, and the energy he gave the scenes," Bonneville reflects.

"I'd heard things about Hollywood stars [and how] once the cameras [are] not on [they] sort of switch off and going back to their trailer and get a stand-in. He was absolutely there for the reverse angles, fully dressed in his costume and giving a huge performance to encourage the other actor that he was speaking to, in this case John Cleese.

"So it was a great lesson, a great experience and one that I will always cherish."

Hugh Bonneville previously starred opposite David Suchet in the ITV adaptation of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot story Murder on the Orient Express. (ITV)

Branagh aside, Bonneville also speaks very highly of the onscreen Hercule Poirot he has played opposite, Suchet, who has become synonymous with the little Belgian thanks to his playing him over 70 episodes for ITV between 1989 and 2013.

"He is legendary for nailing that dialogue, so much of the structure of those stories is the denouement where he reveals how he knows who done it, and it was a master class in technique," Bonneville says of Suchet who he says was remarkable at "leading from the front".

Read more: David Suchet will never watch Kenneth Branagh's Poirot

"His courtesy to all the actors on set was fantastic, and also I thought the production values were terrific and it was just a wonderful ensemble of people. We had Jessica Chastain, David Morrissey, Toby Jones, a wonderful array of British talent and superbly directed by Phillip Martin.

"I think it stands up there alongside many of the the big screen Poirots that there have been."

Agatha Christie's Poirot is available to watch in full on ITVX.

Douglas is Cancelled is out now on ITVX and airs weekly on ITV1, and our full Role Recall interview with Hugh Bonneville is out now.