Last Sunday, writer, director and producer Rian Johnson attended “Glass Onion Day” at the new Netflix theater, aptly named “The Tudum (for Netflix’s trademark sound) Theater.” The conversation was a part of Netflix’s ongoing FYC screenings.
Although he is regularly associated with Stars Wars Episode VIII — The Last Jedi, Johnson makes no secret that he would much rather be known as the man who revived the whodunit. With the stellar comic performances and twists in both Knives Out and now Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, it’s safe to say Johnson has.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a standalone sequel to the 2019 film Knives Out, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as master detective Benoit Blanc. This time around, Blanc travels to Greece to take on a new case revolving around tech billionaire Miles Bron (played by Edward Norton) and his closest friends.
Blanc soon meets a distinctly disparate group of friends gathering at the invitation of billionaire Miles Bron for their yearly reunion. Among those on the guest list are Miles’ former business partner Andi Brand, current Connecticut governor Claire Debella, cutting-edge scientist Lionel Toussaint, fashion designer and former model Birdie Jay and her conscientious assistant Peg, and influencer Duke Cody and his sidekick girlfriend Whiskey.
As in all the best murder mysteries, each character harbors their own secrets, lies and motivations. When someone turns up dead, everyone is a suspect.
While speaking with filmmaker Drew Goddard (The Martian, The Cabin in the Woods, Cloverfield) about his love of mystery novels, Johnson admitted that Glass Onion was bigger in scope and feel than Knives Out. “Glass Onion is much bigger. I wanted to send a message that this was a different film. Knives Out was cozier and darker. This is a lot sunnier and more colorful.”
He then explained to Goddard how he looked to Agatha Christie, whose 66 beloved detective novels have been made and remade, for inspiration.
“Christie’s novels were the most entertaining thing in the world. She was mixing genres, she was throwing crazy narrative spins that had never been done in whodunnits before,” explained Johnson. “She kept her readers on their toes. I tried to emulate Christie with a completely new story.”
When asked about whether he considered making Glass Onion a period film, Johnson replied, “Both Glass Onion and Knives Out are period pieces for the now. When Christie wrote her novels she included people of her time – butlers, constables, doctors etc. She wasn’t writing about the past. She was writing about the present. For Glass Onion, I tried to capture the people of our time and that includes influencers, creators, tech billionaires.”
Later, Johnson raved to Reel 360 News about Janelle Monaé’s stand-out performance in Glass Onion. “She’s just amazing, isn’t she? She is actually playing five roles in the film.” Johnson also admitted that Monae is the real protagonist of the film, not the real star of the film Daniel Craig’s outrageous and colorful detective Benoit Blanc. “In the film, they are dance partners. Upon multiple viewings, if you watch Daniel, he may be saying one thing, but his eyes never leave Janelle Monae.
Reel 360 News did love Monáe’s performance so much, we suggested to Rian that he develop his third film around Monae’s character Andi Brand and Craig’s Blanc. A team-up! Johnson smiled every so slyly at the request, making sure he did not divulge anything about the next film.
“I’m starting to work on the third movie now, and that’s also what’s got me creatively jazzed.”
With a “Certified Fresh” score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, the mystery whodunnit entered the Most Popular List with 209.40M hours viewed. After only 10 days, Glass Onion is the third most watched film by hours viewed (following Red Notice and Don’t Look Up) and in this time, 90M households have seen the film (209.40M hours viewed divided by 2.3 hours).
And the world couldn’t get enough of Benoit Blanc, Knives Out (2019) is #3 on the English Films List with 16.76M hours viewed.
The ensemble cast also includes Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista.