Agatha Christie's great detective Hercule Poirot hasn't been portrayed on the screen quite as often as say, Sherlock Holmes, but like Homes, it is a role that has been played by some of the world's finest actors. And each one comes at the character in a slightly different way and bringing something unique and interesting to the role. The most recent Poirot on screen is Kenneth Branagh, who played the character in the film Murder on the Orient Express, and will again, eventually, in Death on the Nile. But iconic actor David Suchet hasn't seen this new version yet.
David Suchet has the longest tenure as Poirot, playing the character in a collection of TV episodes and TV movies beginning in 1989 and running until 2013. As such, it's probably his face more than any other that modern audiences associate with the character of Hercule Poirot. However, it turns out the most prolific Poirot has never seen the newest incarnation. Suchet told the Radio Times (via the Independent) that he's made a specific point to avoid seeing Kenneth Branagh's version simply because everybody wants to know what he thinks, and he doesn't want to say anything bad. According to Suchet...
Every journalist would like me to say what I think about Branagh, but the reason I haven’t watched Ken – and I have enormous admiration for him as an actor – is that people ask me what I think of the ‘newest, greatest Poirot’ and if I’ve never seen him, it’s best that I don’t have an opinion. It protects me and it keeps me from saying anything that might be derogatory. I’m sure that were I to see it, there would be hundreds of things to say that would be complementary.
You would expect a guy who played Hercule Poirot for so long to have a very logical reason for avoiding seeing another actor play the role he spent so many years with, and it honestly makes sense. David Suchet is constantly asked what he thinks of Kenneth Branagh's performance, and if Suchet had seen Murder on the Orient Express, then he'd actually have an opinion and he could speak about. Although, I'm sure he's seen that mustache, and he must have an opinion about that.
David Suchet does feel confident that he would be mostly complimentary of Kenneth Branagh's performance. But as somebody who knows the Hercule Poirot character better than most, he almost certainly would have some criticism. Maybe it's something that he felt Branagh did wrong, or at the very least, not as well as he could have. After all, nobody is perfect. Fans would want to know what character choices Suchet disagrees with.
And let's face it, if David Suchet said a hundred good things about Kenneth Branagh's Poirot and one bad thing, it's the bad thing that I'd probably be writing about right now. That tends to be what people are more interested in reading about, so it's probably a good thing that Suchet simply gives himself no opinion by never being able to form one.