Oscar Roles: Bergman, Ingrid–Murder on the Orient Express–Shortest Winning Role in History?

Ingrid Bergman became one of the few actresses ever to receive three Oscars when she won her third (and first in the category of Best Supporting Actress) for her performance in Murder on the Orient Express.

She had previously won two Best Actress Oscars, for Gaslight in 1944, and for Anastasia in 1956.

Director Sidney Lumet offered Bergman the important part of Princess Dragomiroff, with which he felt she could win an Oscar. She insisted on playing the much smaller role of Greta Ohlsson, the old Swedish missionary.

Lumet discussed Bergman’s role: “She had chosen a very small part, and I couldn’t persuade her to change her mind. She was sweetly stubborn. But stubborn she was.

Generous to a fault, and known for his love of actors, Lumet made a crucial decision: “Since her part was so small, I decided to film her one big scene, where she talks for almost five minutes, straight, all in one long take. A lot of actresses would have hesitated over that. She loved the idea and made the most of it. She ran the gamut of emotions. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Bergman’s role in this film is considered to be one of the shortest in the Academy’s anals to garner an Oscar.