Michelle Pfeiffer: I feared I would mess up Kenneth Branagh’s long takes

Michelle Pfeiffer has spoken of the nerves she felt being directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh and the fear that she would be responsible for messing up a take.

The Scarface star plays husband-hunting widow Caroline Hubbard in the big-screen version of Agatha Christie’s whodunnit Murder On The Orient Express, opposite an all-star cast that includes Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Kenneth himself as Hercule Poirot.

The movie features a number of long, uninterrupted takes as the camera moves through the luxury train and past all the famous faces, and Pfeiffer has said she lived in fear that she would be the one to mess it up.

She told the Press Association the takes were “really stressful”, adding: “I was at the end those usually.

“I was at the end of one of them in the opening shot and I was so stressed because just the whole time I’m going ‘Please don’t let me be the one who messes up, please, I don’t want to be the one who messes up’, and I think I did maybe twice.”

Michelle Pfeiffer as Mrs Hubbard (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp/Nicola Dove)

She said of Sir Kenneth: “It was extraordinary working with him; you don’t know what to expect really when it is somebody who is starring and directing because both things are all-consuming.

“I watch other directors and look at them and I think ‘I don’t know how they do it’, and he is so organised and so smart and I suspect that he has some sort of photographic memory because he would remember everything.

“He would do the rounds with actors and we would have just done a five or seven-minute long shot and he would roll it back in his head and remember every single moment and every single note – it was kind of extraordinary.”

However, watching him at work did not make her keen to follow in his footsteps and take on the double duty of both director and star.

She said: “I’m interested in directing, it appeals to me. I don’t think I would star in a movie that I directed, at least not my first time out, I think I would just like to focus on that.”


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