The Hamilton star moves to the big screen in Kenneth Branagh"s starry remake of the classic mystery, out this month.
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Leslie Odom Jr. stars in the remake of Murder on the Orient Express, out November 10. The original, released in 1974, was nominated for six Academy Awards.
Leslie Odom Jr. doesn’t seem like the type to get stage fright. After all, he has released two albums, performed with full symphony orchestras, and had roles on TV series including The Good Wife and Law & Order: SVU. And his turn in Hamilton—he originated the part of Aaron Burr—won him a legion of fans as well as a Grammy and a Tony.
Still, the 36-year-old says it was daunting to join Murder on the Orient Express, a star-studded remake of the 1974 film based on Agatha Christie’s mystery classic, out November 10.
“It was like being back in school,” he says of his role as the stuffy Dr. Arbuthnot—a role first played by Sean Connery—in the movie, which was directed by Kenneth Branagh and also stars Johnny Depp and Judi Dench. “You step on a soundstage with a pen and paper and you take notes.”
Branagh, who cast Odom as one of a group of strangers who become suspects in the death of a fellow passenger, says his star had no reason to feel intimidated. The director describes him as “charming, cool, and martini-dry witty.”
Today, however, Odom is trying to hide his exhaustion. Besides working on an inspirational book based on lectures he has given to students (Odom is himself an alum of Carnegie Mellon), he has just returned from the set of an upcoming film directed by the pop singer Sia. He sinks into a leather club chair in his Culver City home, sighs, and takes stock of his success, professional and personal. Movie stardom aside, Odom and his wife are parents to newborn daughter Lucille, and he breaks into a smile at the mention of her name.
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“I look at pictures of me looking at her, and I don’t recognize myself,” he says. “I make a giddy face I don’t often see.” Thanks to his high-profile projects, though, Odom, whose work was honored by the Princess Grace Foundation in 2016 with the Princess Grace Statue, isn’t in danger of going unrecognized by others. And when the conversation turns to the inevitable film adaptation of Hamilton, he’s as enthusiastic as any fan.
“I hope I’m not too old to throw my hat in the ring,” he says. “Burr was the role of a lifetime, and if that only happens once in a career, you’re blessed. It may never happen again, but I’m going to keep trying.”
This story appears in the November 2017 issue of Town & Country. Subscribe Now
Watch the trailer for Murder on the Orient Express:
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