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‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Q&A: Rian Johnson, & the Cast Talk About the Whodunit Sequel

The director and the cast of the mystery movie talk about gathering a great ensemble, having murder mystery parties, and more!

Detective Benoit Blanc is back for another Knives Out mystery! The sequel to Rian Johnson’s hit whodunit film is heading straight to Netflix this December 23, and this time, Daniel Craig’s clever sleuth must uncover the truth behind a mysterious murder on a tech mogul’s private Greek island.

In Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Detective Benoit Blanc must investigate yet another colorful lineup of characters to be played by a star-studded cast including Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista.

Before the release of the film, Netflix held a virtual press conference joined by its stars, writer and director Rian Johnson, and producer Ram Bergman. Check out the highlights of the press conference below:

Rian Johnson talks about making the Knives Out follow-up.

Writer and director Rian Johnson shared how in making a sequel to Knives Out, he was inspired by how Agatha Christie always introduced new mysteries in her every book.

“The mode in which we were thinking to keep making [the Knives Out movies] was always not to continue the story of the first one, but to treat them the way Agatha Christie treated her books and do an entirely new mystery every time. A new location, a new rogues gallery of characters,” explained Johnson, citing how the author shook it up from book to book.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

“So, sitting down to write this one, that was kinda the marching orders,” the director adds. “Let’s not just turn the crank and do another, let’s come up with something that’s truly different and that actually is gonna make audiences say, ‘Oh, wow. I’m getting the same pleasure I did from the first one, but I’ve never seen this before.’ And that’s kind of the exciting thing.”

This also influenced the setting of the sequel. According to Johnson, “trading the browns of New England for the blue and yellows of Greece felt like a really obvious kind of ‘Oh, we’re in a whole new deal here,’” for the audiences.

He also mentioned that he wanted to tap into the rich traditions of a destination mystery, as seen in classics like Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, and The Last of Sheila. Furthermore, the director adds that he wrote the script in 2020 during the lockdown. “Like a lot of us, I was sitting at home, kind of wishing I was on a Greek island. So that might have had something to do with it.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Gathering the ensemble of stars.

When asked how he got to round up such an effective ensemble for the new film, Rian Johnson says that it was “as simple as trying to get the best actor you can possibly get.”

The director also added that they got lucky with the group: “Just my head spins when I think about the fact that we were able to get this group together. There’s also the added element of, it’s a little bit like throwing a dinner party in that it is an ensemble. We know we’re gonna be on location together and all be kind of stuck together for a while. So, you’re also just trying to cast cool people who are hopefully gonna get along and have a good time together.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

And have a good time they did. The cast likened the experience to being part of a theatre ensemble.

“I’ve had a couple of opportunities, you know, to be a part of great ensembles with Hamilton and One Night in Miami,” shared Leslie Odom Jr., “And this is one of the best. But it’s really an impossible thing, I think, to achieve without the leadership. It happens from the top down… It’s really Rian and Daniel and Ram making it feel that creative and that permissive and that fun.”

“For a lot of us who came into this through theater or just that idea of being in a repertory company, an ensemble, it has a special pleasure,” Edward Norton adds. “It reminds you of your high school drama club, for those who were dorky enough to be in the high school drama club.”

The cast also revealed how they would have murder mystery parties outside of filming the murder mystery movie. When asked who were the easy marks whenever they play those games, Johnson and the cast cited Dave Bautista and Daniel Craig himself.

“[Daniel Craig is] so vulnerable, yeah, and available that you’re like, ‘Oh, he could never be a spy,'” joked Kate Hudson. Norton agrees, adding that “it’s ridiculous, but [Daniel Craig] is the least violent person of all of us. I mean, I think he’s probably the gentlest person and could crush all of us at the same time.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Getting to work with director Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig.

The cast members also talked about how delighted they were to star in the new Knives Out movie and work alongside director Johnson and its lead star, Daniel Craig.

“I am a fan of everybody on this stage,” said Janelle Monáe. “I think that being able to work with Rian is a dream.
I literally just told myself if I ever had the opportunity, it’s a yes. And then after reading this script, it was a hell yes. You know, because this is a character that you get to play with. So many layers, so mysterious. It took a lot of focus. There were moments when the cast was out having a blast after they did their scenes.”

Madelyn Cline also talked about how she got the news of being cast after she got off a plane in New York.

“I was huddled in a corner at baggage claim ’cause it was so loud and Rian was over the phone asking me if I wanted to be a part of [Glass Onion]. I was like, ‘You’re asking, is that even a question? Of course, I do.’ And then I proceeded to have the best weekend of my life and cheers to that. It was amazing.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

The stars also talked about their experience working with Daniel Craig, and finally hearing him as Detective Benoit Blanc in person.

“It kind of lifts the veil,” said Kate Hudson. “Like oh sh*t, I’m actually here. I’m in a Knives Out mystery. I mean, for me, I think just watching Daniel work was a privilege and he’s a consummate professional. he shows up ready to deliver every line. He honors Rian’s words and he brings something just spectacular, as any movie star would. Just to be a part of that and to learn from that and to watch that was, for me, really something.”

“His physical comedy too, I was just floored by,” Kathryn Hahn adds. “Just like his control of his body and how he throws himself into this part physically is something that I was so excited to watch. He really is a gamer in that department, it’s really thrilling.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Director Rian Johnson on telling fresh stories from the whodunit genre to new audiences.

Director Rian Johnson was also asked what his favorite thing was in helping bring back the genre that he loves so much, for new audiences to consume. The director answered, ” I feel like we’ve kind of rode a beautiful wave of people rediscovering these, which has been really nice with a lot of other great filmmakers bringing them to life. As a whodunit junkie myself, it makes me really happy.”

“And then what makes me the happiest, I guess, is, you know I mentioned Agatha Christie’s books, but those
movies that were based on her books in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when I was a kid watching those with my family, [I remember] how big of an impact they had. And now the coolest thing for me is talking to friends who have kids around that age, and seeing them get into these movies and recognizing, oh, that’s kind of what we made these for. And it’s super, super-cool that they can inspire whoever’s gonna, 30 years from now, do their own version of it. That makes me really happy,” added Johnson.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery starts streaming on Netflix this December 23, 2022.

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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Comedy, Crime, Mystery
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