Playing the part

I haven’t yet watched it, but there is a new TV version of a Hercules Poirot mystery. I read the Poirot books long before I saw the great detective portrayed on film or TV. Each of us has our own ideas of what characters in books look like, even ones so carefully and fully described as Hercules, but I’m always ready to be carried along by a portrayal different from my imaginary version. However, I did struggle with some versions, who seemed so completely different, apart from the accent and the moustache. The latest actor to take the rôle is John Malkovitch, and apparently shows a different side to Agatha Christie’s character, so I shall be interested to watch.

Whenever a book is adapted it can never see inside the heads of all the readers and come up with the characters as they imagine them… for me, David Suchet did fit the Poirot bill, more and better than anyone else. However, when it comes to films of other books, ‘Wuthering Heights’, for example, can any actor be the perfect Heathcliff or Cathy for all viewers because every person has their own interpretation.

Sometimes however some point in the original story is completely missed by the choice of actors for the screen representations. I can imagine that a sad, grey John Malkovitch might be a sad, grey Poirot, but – and I know I’ve mentioned this before – in Ann Cleeves’ stories about Jimmy Perez in the detective series set in the Shetlands, the whole point of her choice of his name – Perez, Spanish not Scottish or even Scandinavian, and his colouring, dark and differ from the blond and red-haired islanders, is to make him an outsider, to make him alien. So it seemed ridiculous (yes, ridiculous) that on TV he should be played by a blond actor, who looked completely Scottish and not an outsider at all.

I will watch the new Poirot, the reviews are good!

I have the cover of the latest Matthew Shardlake novel, Tombland, by C.J. Sansom as my featured image… I would love to see these novels made into films, but who should play Shardlake? Gosh what a quandary! There would be an outcry if he wasn’t shown as a disabled man, an even greater outcry if he wasn’t acted by a disabled man!

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