Sir David Suchet says he has not watched Sir Kenneth Branagh’s take on Hercule Poirot to protect himself from saying anything “derogatory” about his performance.
Veteran actor Sir David, 74, played the fictional Belgian detective in the British TV series between 1989 and 2013.
Other stars who have taken on the role include Albert Finney, who earned an Oscar nomination for his 1974 film version of Murder On The Orient Express, and John Moffatt, who voiced Poirot in a radio version for the BBC.
Actor and director Sir Kenneth, 60, debuted in the role in the 2017 film version of Murder On The Orient Express and is due to reprise the part in Death On The Nile, which has been delayed to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Sir David told Radio Times that, despite being a fan of Sir Kenneth’s work, he had avoided watching his performance in order to protect himself.
He said: “Every journalist would like me to say what I think about Branagh, but the reason I haven’t watched Ken – and I have enormous admiration for him as an actor – is that people ask me what I think of the ‘newest, greatest Poirot’ and if I’ve never seen him, it’s best that I don’t have an opinion.
“It protects me and it keeps me from saying anything that might be derogatory.
“I’m sure that were I to see it, there would be hundreds of things to say that would be complimentary.”
Sir David also described saying goodbye to Poirot in 2013 as like losing his “best friend”.
He said: “As a human being, losing your real family is always painful, but my saddest day as an actor was filming Poirot’s death.
“I miss him in my life because he was my life for 25 years and I’ve lost my best friend.”
Poirot appeared in 33 of Dame Agatha Christie’s novels, with Murder On The Orient Express being one of her most-adapted stories.
Read the full interview in Radio Times, available now.