The best actors to play detective Poirot

The literary detective Hercule Poirot has featured on our screen for over 85 years, but which actors played the Belgian detective best?

David Suchet actor

by Ellen Kinsey |

Hercule Poirot is one of the most famous literary detectives of all time. Created by Agatha Christie, the character has been adapted from novels to television, film and radio and has been played by more than 20 actors.

The fussy Belgian detective was so famous and loved by readers that the fictional character’s “death” was given an obituary!

Here we take a look at the top 5 actors who we believe to be the best portrayals of the great detective.

Which Poirot actor is your favourite?

1. David Suchet

When the name Hercule Poirot comes up, David Suchet is the first person to come to mind. He has featured on ITV’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot series for thirteen seasons, running between 1980 - 2013.

He encapsulates the fictional Belgian detective and has become the definitive version of the character.

There are many adaptations and versions of Christie’s creation, but no one can claim the longevity of Suchet's Poirot.

In the past, Suchet has said that after spending 25 years in Poirot’s shoes, he feels like Poirot is his invisible lifelong friend.

Suchet is the star of the only British drama to be shown in every country in the world, with over 700 million viewers.

Suchet has become the living embodiment of the Poirot and is frequently penned as the best portrayal of the famous private detective.

2. Peter Ustinov

Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov was an English actor and writer. Starring in six Poirot movies, Ustinov featured alongside many big names in the industry such as Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg and David Niven.

Ustinov played the role in the Agatha Christie stories, Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun. His adaption of Poirot was an exciting change from Suchet’s TV portrayal of the role, featuring in international locations such as Egypt, Mexico and Italy.

3. Albert Finney

Albert Finney played Poirot once in the 1974 movie the Murder on the Orient Express.

Despite his limited time sporting one of the most famous moustaches to grace our TV screens, he is still the only actor to get an Oscar nomination for the portrayal of Poirot.

Despite this nomination, author Agatha Christie had a complaint on Finney’s portrayal, she said: “It was well made except for one mistake. It was Albert Finney, as my detective Hercule Poirot.

"I wrote that he had the finest moustache in England — and he didn’t in the film. I thought that was a pity — why shouldn’t he?”

4. Kenneth Branagh

Theatre star Kenneth Branagh is well known for his many Shakespeare adaptations and his role as Gildroy Lockhart in the Harry Potter Film, The Chamber of Secrets.

Branagh reprised the role and is the most recent actor to portray Poirot in the 2017 version of the Murder on the Orient Express.

Directing and fronting the production, Branagh managed to secure a star-filled cast with actors such as Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer and Daisy Ridley.

The film received mixed reactions, however, there is no doubt that this high production modern adaption gave detective Poirot exposure to a new generation.

Branagh returned to play Poirot in a sequel adaptation of Death on the Nile, which was due to be released in September 2020, but delayed until February 2022.

5. Alfred Molina

Alfred Molina starred as Poirot in the American TV film adaption of Murder on the Orient Express.

The television movie aired on CBS in 2001 and played out a modern-day adaptation of the original story.

Molina, also known for his role in Spider-Man 2, plays the detective solving the mystery in the present day, using a laptop and DNA evidence to solve the case.

Despite the contemporary updates, critics praised Molina in the role. New York Magazine stated that Molina was a “fine Poirot – more melancholy than foolish or foppish, shadowed by an unhappy love affair, taller than usual, and much less given to excessive fidgets than a Finney or a Ustinov.”

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