Michelle
Admiring
Pfeiffer
November 23, 2017   |   Written by Elaine Lipworth

Article taken from BusinessMirror.

FIRST coming into prominence in the cult classic Scarface (1983), starring opposite Al Pacino, Golden Globe winner and three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer continues to engross film audiences the world over with her exquisite beauty and galvanizing talent, this time essaying the role of Mrs. Hubbard in the stylish and suspenseful mystery Murder on the Orient Express, based on the Agatha Christie novel that’s long been regarded as one of the most celebrated whodunits of all time.

Taking the audience back in time to the Golden Age of rail travel, from Istanbul to London, the cracking murder mystery is directed with ingenuity and flair by Kenneth Branagh. Pfeiffer’s glamorous and intriguing Mrs. Hubbard is one of the passengers on board the iconic Orient Express. As the story unfolds, someone is murdered. Thirteen strangers are stranded on the train in a snowdrift. Every one of them is a suspect. It’s a race against time to discover the identity of the murderer before he—or she—strikes again. Transported into a world of glamour, opulence and danger, nothing is as it seems on the Orient Express, as the audience is swept up in an intriguing tale of deception, loyalty, love and revenge.

Also noted for her iconic role as Catwoman in Batman Returns, Pfeiffer has captivated audiences for over three decades. The consummate actress, Pfeiffer received an Oscar nomination for her role in Dangerous Liaisons, and won a Golden Globe and her second Oscar nomination for her performance in The Fabulous Baker Boys. She has been honored with a slew of other awards for her performances in films, such as The Age of Innocence, Frankie and Johnny, The Russia House and Married to the Mob. Among her impressive credits are The Witches of Eastwick, The Story of Us, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dark Shadows, People Like Us, The Family, What Lies Beneath, White Oleander, I Am Sam, Chéri, Hairspray and Stardust.

Besides Pfeiffer, Murder on the Orient Express also stars a stellar ensemble that includes Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi and Willem Dafoe, all playing passengers on the train, while Branagh plays Christie’s legendary detective, Hercule Poirot.

One passenger is murdered, the rest are suspects. It’s up to Poirot to uncover the truth.

Here, Michelle Pfeiffer talks about the film, her director, her costars and the appeal of a great murder mystery, trains, costumes, plus her own brilliant career.

What was your experience of working with Kenneth and the formidable ensemble cast?

It was wonderful. He had a lot to keep track of on this film, with so many actors. I don’t really know how he did it, whether he has a photographic memory, but he would remember everything—and at the end of each take. With the cast, it was a little intimidating honestly. The first day of filming, I had to do a closeup and all the actors were there. I remember thinking, “I’m bombing in front of Judi Dench!” (Laughs) Maybe I wasn’t actually bombing, but you know it’s hard when you’re in awe of other people’s talent. Each and every one of them is so unbelievably accomplished.

How did you envisage your character, Mrs. Hubbard?

She is very fun-loving, she loves to travel, and she has seen a lot of the world and has developed very big opinions about the whole thing. And, if you give her a moment, she will tell you all about it! She’s friendly…perhaps a little too friendly at times. She is also very inquisitive and enthusiastic, perhaps a little too much so. Maybe she is a little lonely, but she’s quite a character.

How do you approach your work? Do you immerse yourself completely in your character?

I don’t intentionally immerse myself in the character throughout the entire film because I would find that exhausting; I couldn’t live that way. However, the people close to me in my life have said to me, “You know, you do disappear a little bit when you go to work.” I’m not aware of that myself, but I’m sure that’s true if I think back on my films and consider the way I am as a person. I’m pretty tunnel-visioned about everything I do, and I work very hard.

Were you familiar with the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman, among other formidable names in films?

I had not seen it and Ken didn’t want any of us to see any of the previous film versions if we hadn’t seen them already. And if we had seen any of them, he preferred that we didn’t actually go back and look at them again, because he wanted all of us to approach the story with fresh eyes.

While it is dark and scary, there are funny moments, too, in the film, aren’t there?

Yes, Ken wanted humor, but he wanted it always to a come out of real situations. Nobody is trying to be funny. I tried to do justice to the humor that was in the script. Ken himself is hilarious and wicked smart.

You look stunning in the movie. What was it like wearing the 1930s-era outfits, and what do the costumes reveal about Mrs. Hubbard?

She likes to wear examples of all of the places she’s been in the world on her person. I think she’s been very pleased with her purchases abroad. She’ll say, “Oh, I got this in Guatemala, and I got this in….” I can say that my costumes reflect the character’s world travels. The costumes were spectacular. Alex (Alexandra Byrne, the costume designer) is such an artist. The work she did in this film is brilliant.

She has amazing attention to detail. That is the great thing about a director like Ken Branagh; he tends to hire people in all departments who have real attention to detail.

What do audiences have to look forward to with this film?

I think all the characters are really interesting and it is fun to watch them interact with each other. Ken has made the film epic in an amazing way. It’s a huge accomplishment on his part. It is lush and it is extraordinary to look at. I also think people love murder mysteries. I think we all love them; they are timeless.

Does acting continue to be fulfilling?

It does—and in many ways, it’s more fulfilling now, because I’m doing it for the love of it. At the same time, I admit there are parts of my work that I don’t enjoy. I don’t like being away from home. I never liked it. I’m a homebody. I like my routine and I don’t like living in hotels or being on planes all the time. I need my stuff around me. That’s very important to me. A lot of people thrive on moving around and I’ve never been like that. But it’s fine. And I guess everybody has the stuff they love, and parts of the job that they don’t love so much.