Tom Bateman x Man About Town

  • Joshua Evans

Interview with actor Tom Bateman about working with Kenneth Branagh on 'Death on The Nile'

Tom Bateman is one of Britain’s most lauded actors of the past few years. The Oxford-born actor first started his career in the theater, where he gained great acclaim staring alongside the likes of David Tennent and Dame Judi Dench in adaptations of William Shakespeare’s ’A Winter’s Tale’ and ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Since then, Tom has gone on to take the lead in a series of versatile and spectacular performances, including the titular role in ITV’s ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. However, itwas during his time in the theatre where Bateman struck up a loving comradeship with Sir Kenneth Branagh, a decision that would later reward him with prominent roles in Branagh’s adaptations of ‘Murder on The Orient Express’and the upcoming ‘Death on The Nile’.

We sat down with Tom to talk about his time on the film, his love for a good murder mystery and sitting in a pub with Wonder Woman.

Photography by Rhys Frampton

Interview extract below (full interview in Man About Town 2020, Chapter II)
How has your year been so far, how did you find lockdown?
I’m very lucky I have a house in the countryside and I just ran away to that and I am so blessed to have a garden. You know that period where we had the heatwave and everyone was flouting the restrictions and heading to the beaches and stuff? I remember people kicking off and moaning about it, but imagine you have two kids and live in a council flat through a heatwave, schools are closed and all you have are those four walls. I couldn’t judge as I’d go mental and I realise and appreciate how lucky I was and still am.

What was it like reuniting with Kenneth Branagh for ‘Death on The Nile’?
He’s just so impressive. He’s doing two jobs at once, obviously directing and then playing the part of Poirot as well. I’ve really loved our friendship blooming, at the beginning when I first started working with him there was a different status around him, he was ‘Sir Kenneth Branagh’ and I was just Tom [laughs]. That’s leveled out a bit more now and I very much consider him a friend and someone I very much respect and admire.

How did the experience of this film compare to your time on ‘Murder on The Orient Express’?
Well, it was interesting because my character in the film isn’t in the book, they kindly wrote me into it [laughs]. So, I couldn’t go to the book to get inspiration, which is what I did in the first film but Ken filled me in with where the character’s been and what he’s been doing. It was nice to pick the gauntlet up from the last film and carry on that character arc. Ken used the same filming crew so it was like coming back after a school holiday in a way and the new cast was so much fun. I got a text from Josh Gad before filming saying “you better not have more fun on this one!”

Why do you think Agatha Christie’s work has endured over the years, and what is it about the murder mystery genre that keeps audiences so enthralled?
What I love about murder mysteries and what people love watching, is the active engagement you have because you’re trying to figure it out at the same time as the principal character and they’re so well written [the books] to the point that if you are paying attention as an audience member you can figure it out before it’s revealed. I think what she did with Poirot so well, is that she created such a fascinating character because she understood human beings so well, she particularly understood that if you put this bizarre character into different situations you’ll get to see all these interesting sides to him, a real examination of the human mind.

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