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Will Poulter and Lucy Boynton lead Hugh Laurie’s star-studded adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? With the three-part series now streaming on BritBox, the two stars speak to ET about working with Laurie, who wrote and directed the project, and what it means to appear in an adaptation of the acclaimed author’s many murder mysteries.
“Agatha Christie is legendary,” Poulter says. “So you feel honored, especially as a Brit, having an opportunity to work with her material.”
In this case, Poulter portrays Bobby Jones, a local Vicar’s son, who finds himself teaming up with friend and socialite Lady Frances “Frankie” Derwent (Boynton) to solve a murder after Bobby comes across a dying man whose last words are the cryptic question in the title. Armed only with a photograph of a young woman found in the dead man’s pocket, the two amateur detectives soon find themselves consumed by the mystery as they search for the truth behind what happened.
“And then you add Hugh Laurie to the equation,” Boynton says. “And it just felt like such a contemporary way to access this story and everything I loved about these characters.”
She adds, “So much of the juiciest bits were brought to the forefront, especially with Frankie. There’s initially a kind of darkness that hangs over her in the book and Hugh brought the comedy out much more.”
“As Lucy said, Hugh added his own sort of seasoning to it that made it just so enjoyable,” Poulter continues, adding, “We had a blast doing it.”
A lifelong fan of the novel, Laurie was delighted to be able to bring the story to the screen for the first time in over a decade. “It’s simultaneously a great honor, but it’s also a daunting honor,” the actor, who also appears in the series as Dr. Nicholson, said of adapting Christie’s work.
“I always thought the novel had a comic spirit to it,” he previously said of the series’ unique mix of humor and suspense, explaining that he merely brought out the playfulness that Christie “imbued these characters with… I think Agatha Christie deliberately set out to do something that had more of a comic spirit to it, than some of her previous novels.”
One such example is seen halfway through episode one, when Jim Broadbent and Emma Thompson are formally introduced as Frankie’s parents and British aristocrats Lord and Lady Marcham. Thompson, in particular, bursts into the scene with so much energy, it’s hard not to appreciate her comedic timing.
When it comes to sharing the screen with the two acting legends, “it was incredible to get a front row seat of their performance but their process more than anything,” Boynton says, noting that the actors “all have a history together, so they have this shorthand and this electric dynamic that means they really bounce off each other and play with the scene.”
She adds, “It just reignited this idea of how much fun you can have with the material.”
As for working together as this newly minted detective duo, Poulter and Boynton had such a great time here. “You couldn’t ask for a better collaborator and scene partner in that respect,” the actor says, with his co-star adding, “Every time I get to talk about it, I’m grinning from ear to ear and so much of that is because of this guy.”
Given that, both are interested in reuniting on screen, especially with Laurie at the helm. Just, perhaps, on a different story. “I feel like the chapter on this particular story is probably closed,” Poulter says, as his co-star nods in agreement. “I would love to team up with Lucy and Hugh again. It would be so fun to do something together.”