Even though it was exclusively for seven days, writer-director Rian Johnson won the fight to get wide dramatic circulation for his Netflix highlights Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Unfortunately, however, he also lost another that was directly associated with it.
It turns out that Johnson prefers the nickname “Glass Onion” to the subtitle of the mystery thriller featuring Daniel Craig.
“I’ve tried hard to make them self-contained,” Johnson told The Atlantic, pointing to Glass Onion and its forerunner, Knives Out, which was released in 2019.
“Honestly, I’m pissed off that we have A Knives Out Mystery in the title. You know? I want it to just be called Glass Onion. I get it, and I want everyone who liked the first movie to know this is next in the series, but also, the whole appeal to me is it’s a new novel off the shelf every time. But there’s a gravity of a thousand suns toward serialized storytelling.”
Johnson also discusses The Last Jedi, a 2017 Star Wars film, and how challenging it is to finish up a film that is a part of a broader narrative.
“Look, in terms of the Star Wars movie I did, I tried to give it a hell of an ending,” he says.
“I love endings so much that even doing the middle chapter of the trilogy. I tried to give it an ending. A good ending that recontextualizes everything that came before it and makes it a beautiful object unto itself — that’s what makes a movie a movie.
“It feels like there’s less and less of that. This whole poisonous idea of creating [intellectual property] has completely seeped into the bedrock of storytelling. Everyone is just thinking, How do we keep milking it? I love an ending where you burn the Viking boat into the sea.”
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery has a lot of secrets, which is fortunate because an excellent mystery book needs secrets.
At EW Round the Table, we try to get most of the cast and Johnson to discuss all of this (of course, they often keep quiet about the film’s salient plot details).
A group of old friends with unresolved animosities travel to Miles Bronn’s (Edward Norton) secluded island for a weekend of crime drama games in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, the follow-up to 2019’s Knives Out.
Any passages of the plot description that are taken verbatim from the news are done so on purpose. Johnson has frequently emphasized Agatha Christie’s writing as an influence for the growing series, and this includes highlighting her frequently undervalued relevance.
“So much of our perception of her is that it’s period pieces, and it’s through this hazy, gauzy nostalgia of the past,” the Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery creator said.
“But she was writing to exactly her time and place.
“So, when we have characters who are influencers, who are Instagram models, who are beleaguered assistants, who are rockstar scientists, who are fashionistas, who are politicians pissing everybody off on both sides of the aisle, who are tech billionaires — all of these are the people that Agatha Christie would be writing about right now.”
Glass Onion Characters Description
The entire cast spoke candidly to EW about who they admired for their characters, from influencers in Los Angeles to various tech executive groups to the creators of SuperSoaker.
While the characters are introduced while they wait to embark on a yacht in the Mediterranean, we can discover everything we need to know about Kate Hudson’s character, model Birdie Jay, from their first group scene.
“The great reference in this is how we all wear masks,” Hudson says, pointing out to the movie’s inclusion of the COVID pandemic in its plot (while perhaps also leaning a little on the meta side).
“You got Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), [the scientist] showing up double-masked. I’m showing up with, like, a lace or mesh mask. Claire (Kathryn Hahn) is showing up with it hanging down like a chin strap. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has a very chic and tight mask.”
Johnson claims that there was a significant variety of sources from which Bron, the rich owner of luxury resorts, may have drew inspiration.
“If I thought about anybody to base this on specifically, it got very boring very quickly,” Johnson said. “It had to be an amalgam. It had to be more about the character and relationship to the power structure.”
Characters and Cast
Even more strangely, Norton connects Stanley Kowalski, played by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, to Miles and his method.
“To be able to take the best of the worst qualities from so many of these people and put them all into one guy was the fun in it,” he elaborated.
“Sometimes when you look at certain characters that we love, a lot of times what someone’s doing is taking something that actually is a little bit too heightened and pulling it down into being believable.
“If you really look at what Tennessee Williams is writing with Stanley Kowalski, on paper, it’s almost too much masculinity. But somehow, it ends up representing something great. Miles is the Kowalski of tech douchebags.”
Odom also mocks the idea that he hid so many secrets, which forced him to face difficult moral choices.
“Lionel’s hiding everything he feels about Miles,” he reflects. “All that was buried — the guilt that we have. These people have been pushed out of line of their integrity by Miles. We had a lot of fun. But there were real-world stakes.”
There are still a plethora of surprises in Glass Onion even with everything out in the open. Starting today, you can watch the mystery movie in theaters for a special one-week run before it premieres on Netflix on December 23.