David Jonsson and Morfydd Clark on Why Agatha Christie Is Still So Fun

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David Jonsson and Morfydd Clark have become two of the fastest rising stars in the UK, and appear together in the new two-part British miniseries, Agatha Christie’s Murder Is Easy. Jonsson impressed everyone in the HBO and BBC Two series Industry, but it was his role in the endlessly delightful Hulu rom-com Rye Lane that has won people over. Soon, he’ll be starring in the hotly anticipated Alien: Romulus (which he calls “very, very, very different” from the franchise), as well as a biopic about the legendary Dietrich Bonhoeffer.




Clark had an earlier start than Jonsson, with some great performances in the 2010s, but she stunned the world in the 2019 religious horror film, Saint Maud, delivering one of the great performances of our time. Since then, she’s become even more beloved in the fantasy-horror scene, starring in His Dark Materials, 2020’s Dracula miniseries, and as Galadriel in The Lord of the RIngs: The Rings of Power. She’s set to star as Ophelia in the upcoming adaptation of Hamlet, starring Joe Alwyn and Riz Ahmed, who she praised as “inspirational.”

Agatha Christie’s Murder Is Easy continues a new English tradition of Christmas Christies, with the BBC adapting Christie’s work for television around the holidays (this series aired in the UK last December). Jonsson and Clark spoke with MovieWeb about Murder Is Easy as the production arrives in North America on Britbox.



The Fun of Bringing Agatha Christie to Life

Agatha Christie's Murder Is Easy

Agatha Christie’s Murder Is Easy

4/5

Release Date
March 1, 2024

Cast
David Jonsson , Mathew Baynton , Nimra Bucha , Morfydd Clark , Penelope Wilton

Seasons
1

Studio
Agatha Christie Productions, Mammoth Screen

Pros

  • A brilliant rethinking of an underrated Agatha Christie classic.
  • David Jonsson and Morfydd Clark are so sweet they’ll give you a sugar rush.
  • Murder Is Easy manages to be very fun while also tackling colonialist and feminist themes.
Cons

  • The production value is a little low.

Murder Is Easy follows a Nigerian attaché who arrives in England and quickly becomes the sole confidant of a woman on her way to Scotland Yard to report multiple murders. On their train ride together, she explains the situation to the man but is killed before she can get to the police. The man, Luke Fitzwilliam, can’t resist the urge to investigate, heading to the woman’s small village and posing as a cultural anthropologist to investigate further. One of the few people in the town to share his interest, Bridgett, becomes a secret friend as Luke learns more and tries to discover the murderer.


It may not be as famous as And Then There Were None or the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot novels, but Murder Is Easy is one of her most radical and comes at a good time. Agatha Christie’s work has experienced a bit of a revival in recent years, largely thanks to Kenneth Branagh’s star-studded films and several BBC adaptations. The characters she creates are incredibly fun to play, attracting some of the greatest actors of all time in film and television versions, such as:

Kenneth Branagh, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Penélope Cruz, Albert Finney, Olivia Colman, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Oliver Reed, Charles Laughton, Judi Dench, Peter Ustinov, Angela Lansbury, Vanessa Redgrave, Annette Bening, Tyrone Power, Gal Gadot, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jamie Dornan, Michelle Yeoh.


“Her observation of people is just so wonderful,” explained Clark when asked what’s so fun about playing a Christie character. “She doesn’t see anybody as normal or boring. Everybody has their own particular type of madness. And it’s interesting, she thinks that everybody’s capable of murder, which is quite extreme. She’s also funny, and the way that she writes her characters is just a gift for actors, which means you often get [good actors]. We’re really lucky that we have people like Penelope Wilton in ours. Christie writes characters that are super fun to play.”

“A lot more of what Morfydd said, I think she’s absolutely right,” added Jonsson. He plays Luke Fitzwilliam, a character previously played by Bill Bixby (The Hulk) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock). He elaborated:

I think Agatha Christie did an amazing job of writing drama about the capacity of human beings. I think she’s kind of a British institution; I think any actor, especially British actors, we kind of cherish her. So to be able to be part of one and kind of carve our own path in this amazing machine has been cool.


A Nigerian in Agatha Christie’s Court

Compared to other recent adaptations (aside from the morbid and excellent 2015 adaptation of And Then There Were None, which kicked off a BBC tradition of Christie Christmases), Murder Is Easy makes some bold changes. The miniseries breaks tradition by reshaping protagonist Luke Fitzwilliam from a retired white police officer to a Nigerian attaché posing as a cultural anthropologist.

It’s a clever choice made by writer Siân Ejiwunmi-Le Berre (one which Christie’s great-grandson believes she would’ve approved of), and it intelligently exacerbates the already existing post-colonialist themes of the novel. Ejiwunmi-Le Berre wrote an excellent piece in The Guardian about this, explaining the changes:


“Making Fitzwilliam a Black man wasn’t an attempt to fix diversity in casting, it was how to make his character work. As a wealthy, educated Nigerian, his limitations as a detective are external obstacles imposed by his immigrant status, not his weakness as a protagonist. An African anglophile in the post-second world war England of the NHS, rationing and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Fitz’s outsiders eye exposes the social unease and bitter cynicism of The Book.”

“I think Siân did a brilliant job of making a character that was not only original and true to the book in a way, but also true to like my experience, or an experience about a Black man at the time,” explained Jonsson. “You know, one thing that’s amazing about this is, first, we’ve never had a lead Black actor in Agatha Christie at all. So doing that, it has to feel true and authentic, even if Agatha Christie is kind of dialed up into a very heightened space. So I think Siân did an amazing job and Meenu [Gaur], our director, didn’t shy away from what it would have been at the time for q Black man, so I really loved that.”


“I really like how fascinated she seems to have been with people being underestimated. Which is why I also think Luke Fitzwilliam is such an interesting character, because he’s underestimated and seen as suspicious,” added Clark, before detailing Christie’s ability to write interesting female characters:

With the way she wrote women, I think this was a time when one of the only currencies that women had was kind of social currency and marriage. And Bridget’s kind of interesting because she’s not a romantic, or she’s suppressed all the romance. So she’s kind of like, ‘This is my lot. I’m going to find a nice rich man. And she has.

Morfydd Clark and David Jonsson Brought Families Together for Christmas


As previously mentioned, the Christmas Christies have become somewhat of a tradition. When we spoke with Jonsson and Clark, it had already been two months since Murder Is Easy debuted in the UK, so we asked the stars about the reaction from audiences and, specifically, their own families. Jonsson said:

I’m kind of quite bad at paying attention to what happens after I kind of do what I do. But my family, I gotta be honest, I think they were incredibly proud, because of the nature of it. I think the immigrant story of coming over and having to assimilate to some degree, I think they felt there was a lot of that on the screen.

“And you know, it came out just at Christmas in the UK and I had a bit of time off,” added Jonsson, “and it was fun because then I went to the theater and watched a couple of bits of it, and I kept getting stopped because of it. So, I don’t know, it’s a bit disconcerting, but also it’s amazing that people have really, really jumped on it, and I think they kind of like it.”


“It’s really lovely,” concurred Clark. “It’s been something that people kind of can watch as a family. That’s something that feels really special to me.” She shared:

For my family, anyway, when we’d watch the Christmas Agatha Christie, it would be like the guessing game of who did it, and I’ve kind of always been woefully off. So it’s just lovely to be in something that you think might be creating kind of fun in the household between like grandparents and grandchildren and parents and things.

Come together, right now, over Christie. Murder Is Easy premiered on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 27 December 2023. It was produced by Karen Kelly and by Agatha Christie Limited and Mammoth Screen, and is now streaming in North America on Britbox. You can watch it through the link below.

Watch Murder Is Easy

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