Poirot and Me by David Suchet


I was twelve when I read my first Agatha Christie. It was The Murder on the Nile and I couldn't pronounce Poirot's name properly. I remember I liked the part of the story where he was questioning the suspects the most. Later I liked to watch films with Peter Ustinov as Poirot. He was OK and I somehow found him funny. But when David Suchet entered the scene I suddenly discovered that for me no other Poirot was really the Poirot, no matter how good actors they were. David Suchet is exactly how Agatha Christie describes Poirot in her books. When I stumbled upon a book Mr. Suchet wrote about being Hercule Poirot, I naturally had to read it.

What I expected from the book was that I would read about how it was for David Suchet to play Poirot and it is exactly what I got. He writes a lot about individual stories they filmed, from the first: The Adventures of a Clapham Cook to the last: The Curtain. I liked these descriptions as I saw almost all of them, apart from the last three: The Big Four, The Labours of Hercules and The Curtain; however I read them, some of them more than once. From time to time I like to reread (or rewatch) the episodes, like watching Hallowe'en Party on Hallowe'en and The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding or Hercule Poirot's Christmas at Christmas. They filmed all seventy Poirot stories, so David Suchet fulfilled his ambition to appear in all of them. In the meantime when they weren't filming Poirot, he had to find some other work. He describes how nervous he got when he didn't know if there were more Poirots or not. Before I saw David Suchet as Poirot I didn't see him before. I knew he worked a lot in theatres and that he was a member of Royal Shakespeare Company. Later I remember seeing him in A Perfect Murder with Gwyneth Paltrow and Michael Douglas and in a couple of minor roles.

David Suchet is a character actor. In the book he repeatedly writes about not wanting to be a star, a celebrity, but remain a character actor he's always wanted to be. When he was offered to play Poirot, he read all Agatha Christie's novels featuring the little Belgian and made a list of Poirot's characteristics, idiosyncrasies and obsessions: what he didn't like, how he dressed, his neatness and his obsession with symmetry. The first time he arrived at the film set and he was offered a wrong pair of trousers he refused to wear them. His argument was that Poirot would never wear something like that. When the script demanded that he shouted across a park to captain Hastings, Mr. Suchet declined to do it. Poirot doesn't shout. What he would do would be to walk slowly to Hastings, which is what he eventually did. It was as if Poirot was a real person, so well did David Suchet study his role. I couldn't but admire him. During the filming of the last episode when he entered the set for the last time as Poirot, he noticed he wasn't sure where Poirot ended and where David Suchet begun. As I put my hand out to reach for the handle, there is a moment, a single, piercing moment, when I am not truly sure who I am. Am I an actor, who has played the role of Poirot for a quarter of a century in seventy television films, or have I actually become this little man that the world, and I, loves so much? Where do I stop, and where does he begin? It feels as if I am in a dream, watching me being me, and yet playing Poirot.

I like the way he writes about his colleagues actors form the series: Pauline Moran as Miss Lemon, Hugh Fraser as captain Hastings and Philip Jackson as inspector Japp. They seemed to get on rather well together and are often described like a sort of a family. And I like how he refers to Agatha Christie. He respectfully calls her Dame Agatha, not just Christie or god forbid A.C. Perhaps it's just his way of speaking but I think it suits him and it definitely suits Poirot.

And last but not least, his little gray cells. His "little grey cells are important to him, of course, but his ability to intuit exceeds even their importance for, as Poirot puts it himself, "I listen to what you say, but I hear what you mean."


* Words written in italics are direct quotes from Poirot and Me by David Suchet.



*

Prvi roman Agathe Christie sem prebrala pri dvanajstih. To je bila Smrt na Nilu iz zbirke, ki jo je kupil Edin oče. Spominjam se, da Poirotovega imena nisem znala pravilno izgovoriti. Najbolj mi je bil všeč del zgodbe, ko je Poirot zasliševal osumljence. Kasneje sem rada gledala filme, v katerih je Poirota največkrat igral Peter Ustinov, ki je bil kar v redu, na trenutke se mi je zdel celo smešen. Ko pa sem videla Davida Sucheta v isti vlogi, sem ugotovila, da je on zame edini Poirot, ne glede na to kako dobri igralci so to vlogo igrali pred njim. David Suchet do potankosti ustreza opisu Poirota iz knjig. Pred časom sem naletela na knjigo o Poirotu, ki jo je napisal sam g. Suchet. Seveda sem jo morala prebrati.

Pričakovala sem, da bom brala o tem kako se je David Suchet lotil vloge in kaj je zanj pomenilo igrati Hercula Poirota in točno to sem dobila. Piše o posameznih zgodbah, ki so bile posnete, od prve, Dogodivščine Claphamske kuharice pa do zadnje, Zavese. Všeč so mi bili ti opisi, saj sem večino zgodb videla tudi sama, razen zadnjih treh: Velika četverica, Herkulovi podvigi in Zavesa. Sem jih pa prebrala. Od časa do časa rada ponovno preberem ali pogledam zgodbe s Poirotom. Na predvečer vseh svetih z M-jem pogledava Zabavo za noč čarovnic, okoli božiča pa Tatvino kraljevega rubina ali Božič Hercula Poirota. Posnetih je vseh sedemdeset zgodb, v katerih nastopa Poirot, tako da je David Suchet izpolnil ambicijo, da bi igral Poirota v vseh. Kadar niso snemali Poirota je bil precej na trnih, ko ni vedel ali se bodo snemanja nadaljevala. Takrat je nastopal v drugih vlogah na filmu in v gledališču. Ne spomnim se, da bi ga videla preden je igral Poirota, vedela pa sem da je igral v gledališču in bil član Royal Shakespeare Company. Kasneje sem ga videla v Popolnem umoru, kjer sta igrala tudi Gwyneth Paltrow in Michael Douglas in še v nekaj manjših vlogah. 

David Suchet je karakterni igralec. V knjigi večkrat omeni, da nikoli ne želel biti zvezda, znana oseba, samo to, kar je: karakterni igralec. Ko so mu ponudili vlogo Poirota, je prebral vse knjige Agathe Christie, v katerih se pojavlja ta belgijski detektiv in si sestavil seznam njegovih lastnosti: česa Poirot ne mara, kako se oblači, kako natančen in obseden s simetrijo je. Ko je prvič prišel na snemanje so mu ponudili napačne hlače, ki jih seveda ni želel obleči. Njegov argument je bil, da Poirot tega že ne bi nosil. Ob drugi priložnosti je bilo v scenariju zapisano, da naj bi Poirot nekaj zaklical kapetanu Hastingsu, ki je stal na drugem koncu parka. Tudi to je odklonil. Poirot ne kriči. Če že, potem bi se sprehodil čez park k Hastingsu, kar je tudi naredil. Kot da bi bil Poirot resnična oseba, tako dobro je g. Suchet naštudiral vlogo. Ne morem, da ga ne bi občudovala. Med snemanjem zadnje epizode je ugotovil, da več ne ve kje se neha Poirot in kje se začne on sam. Ko sem stegnil roko, da bi prijel za kljuko, sem se za trenutek, kratek trenutek, počutil kot da ne bi bil popolnoma prepričan kdo sem. Sem morda igralec, ki je vlogo Poirota igral že četrt stoletja v sedemdesetih televizijskih filmih ali pa sem dejansko postal ta mali mož, ki ga ima ves svet, tudi jaz, tako rad? Kje se neham jaz in kje se začne on? Kot da bi v sanjah opazoval samega sebe in hkrati igral vlogo Poirota.

Všeč mi je bilo kako je pisal o kolegih igralcih: o Pauline Moran kot Miss Lemon, Hughu Fraserju kot kapetanu Hastingsu in Philipu Jacksonu kot inšpektorju Jappu. Zdi se, da so se precej dobro razumeli, na trenutke sem dobila občutek, da so bili podobni nekakšni družini. Ravno tako mi je všeč kako govori o Agathi Christie. Spoštljivo jo naslavlja z naslovom, ki ji ga je podelila kraljica, Dame Agatha in ne samo Christie ali bog ne daj A.C. Morda gre samo za njegov način izražanja, vendar mislim, da mu pristoji, gotovo pa pristoji Poirotu.

In ne nazadnje, njegove male sive celice. Njegove "male sive celice" so zanj seveda pomembne, vendar pa je njegova intuicija še pomembnejša. Kot pravi Poirot sam:"Poslušam kaj govorite, vendar slišim kaj mislite."
  

* ležeče izpisane besede so vzete iz knjige Poirot and Me by David Suchet. Prevedla sem jih sama.



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