Question of the week: what do you think of Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple?

In case you missed yesterday’s news, Jennifer Garner – 38 and the former star of Alias and Elektra – is to play Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple in a new series of movies. 

Now my initial thoughts on this were

  1. WTF?
  2. Seriously, WTF?
  3. Sacrilege! 
  4. Do all women in movie franchises have to be hot or couldn’t there be just one who got by on her brains? 

But now I’ve had a think about it (and reconciled myself to 4 never ever happening), I’m actually quite warming to the idea.

  1. It’s a series of prequels. We’ve had Young Sherlock Holmes. We’ve had Casino Royale.  Why not Youngish – no, let’s go with Young, cos she’s the same age as me – Miss Marple?
  2. I quite like Jennifer Garner, even if Alias was largely pants
  3. We’ve already had the best old Miss Marple possible (Joan Hickson) so why try to gild gold? Why not do something different?
  4. Miss Marple was something of a cipher, so anything to fill out the character with some proper backstory would be good.
  5. I hate Agatha Christie stories and don’t care if something’s not faithful to them. They’re pre-ruined.
  6. Anything to get a decent franchise with a lead female character, please.

But what do you think?

Do you approve of Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple? Do you think only older actresses should be able to play the character? Or do you think this a good idea?

Answers below or a link to your response on your own blog, please




  • Strange idea. Isn’t the whole point of Miss Marple that she looks old and doddery but is really smart? So now she’s going to look smart and be smart? Still, you’re right about Joan Hickson.

  • Mark Carroll

    I’m not dismissing the idea. I’m not much of a fan of Miss Marple anyway but whatever I get from it doesn’t much result from her age.
    Watching DVDs of British shows here does make it striking that there are many more older and not-beautiful actors getting leading roles in British shows than here in the US. Mind you, if I’m lukewarm about a show, I admit that eye candy can help soften the disappointment. Over here if one’s eyes don’t point in quite the same direction I fear one’s limited to guest-starring as some criminally-insane loner.

  • SK

    While mostly I agree with your second lot of points, especially 5 (though I don’t quite agree with you on 2, as I can’t stand Garner, that may be because I’ve never quite managed to dientangled her from the suckiness of Alias — the pants, as it were, have stuck) my main musing is:
    In what way will this be related at all to Agatha Christie’s stories? Will Garner be running around a sleepy pre-war English village in her underwear and neon wigs solving genteel murders, or will the whole thing be relocated to picket-fence midwestern America?
    I mean, ‘doddery old spinster who fools everyone by looking harmless but actually having a razor-sharp crimesolving wit’ is not the only thing about the Marple books, but to be honest there isn’t a lot else (see point 5 again) and if they’re losing that, what are they keeping?

  • MediumRob

    The essence of Miss Marple is
    1) She’s smart
    2) She understands people
    3) She’s a big gossip and has been around so long that she usually knows about some sort of similar incident that’s already happened.
    4) She’s single.
    That’s about it. You could probably transpose all of them onto Jennifer Garner in Armpit, Idaho (since these will indeed be set in the US), and still maintain the Miss Marple aesthetic, because they basically did with Jessica Fletcher/Murder She Wrote.
    I guess the stories if they are to be prequels could be why she never married (cf Young Sherlock Holmes), how she learned to love tweed, et al.
    Wikipedia helpfully provides some of the few nuggets of info Christie provides about Marple (art school, finishing school in Italy with some Americans) that could be worked into the movies to at least make her more Marpley.

  • MediumRob

    Oh, and the Agatha Christie estate might be getting cold feet on this.

  • SK

    Well, I have to agree for once with Agatha Christie in that article: changing all these things is fine, but why not then just go the whole hog and change the name too?
    That has the advantage even that you don’t have to pay royalties.

  • MediumRob

    “Well, I have to agree for once with Agatha Christie in that article: changing all these things is fine, but why not then just go the whole hog and change the name too?That has the advantage even that you don’t have to pay royalties.”
    Dear God. Original characters. Are you mad?

  • SK

    Either I am or the world is. Gentlemen, place your bets.

  • Damn, this is one of the worst ideas I’ve seen come out of Disney since Walt offered to paint a Snow White mural inside the gas chambers.

  • Oh god, this is hilarious! I am I think possibly outnumbered here by being a huge AC fan, as I read her voraciously aged 13 and have retained a soft spot ever since. Dear old AC must surely be turning in their grave. Am not surprised at all that Chorion have considered it, given the shocking treatment meted out on the Famous Five, and am only surprised that they are getting cold feet. Thought nothing would come in the way of making a quick buck/trying to extend the franchise.
    I do see your point about Miss M, being a cipher, Rob and also about the essence of her being easily transferable, but JG doesn’t strike me as QUITE the right actress to do it. I think the only response is to have a laugh and not take it seriously, otherwise it’s just too tragic, whether you’re a fan or not.
    I DO think it would be fascinating if someone did this properly with a younger more serious actress – Andrea Riseborough/Claire Foy spring to mind – to see how Miss M became who she is, and yes, why she’s single. I think from memory there may be hints of a lost love – possibly a fiance who fell in WW1? – and she certainly has an interesting relationship (platonic of course) with Jason Rafiel in A Caribbean Mystery, which continues posthumously in Nemesis. It is probably just a meeting of minds, but I always felt when I was reading it, that had they both been younger etc…. If I were making a prequel I’d certainly look at that relationship.
    But I’m not, and in the meantime, I think this should get the ridicule it deserves….

  • PS am possibly fantasising about Miss M’s lost love – I may have made that scenario up to satisfy my 13 yo self’s romantic yearnings (-:

  • PS am possibly fantasising about Miss M’s lost love – I may have made that scenario up to satisfy my 13 yo self’s romantic yearnings (-: