The Oscar-winning actress never signed a deal to appear in the film, although she was reported as being in early talks and was in negotiations to join the cast, according to knowledgeable individuals. With Jolie Pitt passing, the studio is now trying to interest a number of other big name stars, with Charlize Theron among the actresses being considered.
In addition to directing, Branagh will star as detective Hercule Poirot. Michael Green (“Blade Runner 2”) is writing the screenplay based on Agatha Christie’s novel, with Steve Asbell overseeing the production for Fox.
The film is based on one of Christie’s best known books. First published in 1934 it revolves around a murder of an American businessman onboard the famous train. The film follows Poirot as he tries to figure out which passenger is the murderer.
Sidney Lumet previously made a version of Christie’s novel in 1974 with Albert Finney as Poirot. The all-star list of suspects included Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Colin Blakely, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave and Michael York. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, earning Bergman, who portrayed a Swedish missionary, an Oscar. It was also a commercial success.
Branagh will produce the film with Ridley Scott, Simon Kinberg and Mark Gordon. Michael Schaefer and Aditya Sood will also produce in some capacity. James Prichard, the author’s great grandson and chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd., and Hilary Strong, CEO at Agatha Christie Ltd., will executive produce.
Jolie Pitt is slated to appear in “Maleficent 2” and will direct “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers” for Netflix. Theron’s recent starring roles include “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.”
Fox declined to comment.