Back in July 2014, Hercule Poirot Central was quoted in a New
York Times article on David Suchet and the "Poirot" television series. Reporter Craig Tomashoff asked me to give my thoughts and perspective (from a fan's point of view) on the portrayal
Mr. Suchet gave to the excellent series. This coincided with the broadcast of the final 5 episodes of the television series in the United States. The article appeared online on the NY Times'
site July 18 and on print in their Sunday edition on July 20. Below is a summary of my comments that I made to Mr. Tomashoff. I discuss what David Suchet has given to fans of Agatha Christie
(and the show) and of his impact on the character of Poirot. Hence, I call it "Suchet's Legacy".
David Suchet as Hercule Poirot. This is from the 1990 TV adaptation of Poirot's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
The "Definitive" Poirot
My first exposure to Mr. Suchet's acting was through the series "Agatha Christie's Poirot" on PBS. The year was 1990--just a year after the series first premiered. Since then, I have always
admired Mr. Suchet for his portrayal of Poirot. I have always felt he has treated Agatha Christie's greatest creation with deep respect, too.
Obviously, I love the character of Hercule Poirot. I also love David Suchet for pulling it off so well. Let me explain why.
Fans call David Suchet's Poirot the "definitive" Poirot because the portrayal is accurate and precise. I agree. Sure, it helps to have a wonderful and detailed costume, but a costume a
character does not make. I feel he has the accent, the "walk", the mustache, and a focus on cleanliness (and order and method). I think Suchet personifies Poirot, not simply acting out how
Poirot is. In my belief, taking on his mannerisms is what makes his Poirot successful. I've read every Poirot novel and short story, and I can tell Suchet has paid attention to Poirot's
personality. Suchet portrays Poirot just as I've depicted him in my mind. In the books, his speech and mannerisms are two components that define Poirot and it translates perfectly to the screen
thanks to Mr. Suchet.
I'd like to mention Mr. Suchet's performance over the years. I believe we see Poirot evolve through the course of the show. (That's also David Suchet evolving still as an actor.) Mr. Suchet
had the advantage of playing the character for many years. That gives him the opportunity to realize the characterization through many stories. We are not introduced to all of Poirot's
characteristics in one novel; similarly, not all at once does he display all traits and idiosyncrasies in one televised episode. Looking at the entire series, at least for myself, I can view
Poirot as a "whole" person.
This reminds me of some negativity towards (specifically) the religious elements and Poirot's unwillingness to show mercy in the television adaptation of the novel Murder on the Orient
Express (2010). Poirot is depicted religious in this episode and it is a very emotional one for him--superbly done by Suchet. Some fans were put off by Poirot's reaction of justice vs mercy
and his displaying his beliefs in Catholicism. However, readers of the books know that Poirot is a religious man (as seen in the novel Taken at the Flood, for example). This is yet
another example of Suchet's desire to show all facets of the character (regardless of the screenwriter's choice to focus on Poirot's struggle at the ending of Orient Express, which was
not in the book).
Mr. Suchet's Impact
There are fans around the world who are more familiar with the television series than the books. I think that's great, because David Suchet has done a superb job on the show, and I believe he
has gotten TV viewers interested in buying the books. Sadly, the "Poirot" television series with David Suchet has ended. However, it is not the end of Poirot. The character of Hercule Poirot
will endure on the screen and in print for another generation. Why? As long as people desire a great puzzle and a unique detective, Poirot will continue. Will another future actor as Poirot be
compared to David Suchet? Undoubtedly. David Suchet's Poirot is the benchmark for all future Poirots. (Past Poirots, too, as he's been favorably compared to other portrayals by actors like Alfred
Molina and Peter Ustinov). Hercule Poirot will live on for many years to come. A lot of that is because of David Suchet's special care of the character.