Daniel Craig Stars in ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’

Det. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) sleuths his way through another star-studded suspect list in a sequel to quirky whodunit 'Knives Out'

Det. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) sleuths his way through another star-studded suspect list in a sequel to quirky whodunit Knives Out

The first time that Daniel Craig and Rian Johnson worked together to bring to the screen the adventures of detective extraordinaire, Benoit Blanc, they had so much fun that a followup to the darkly comedic mystery became a no-brainer. “We were like, ‘If this does even moderately well, it’d be really fun to keep making these,’ ” says Johnson.  

But for the writer-director, regurgitating his first hit was not an option. “The mode in which we were thinking to keep making them was to treat them the way Agatha Christie treated her books,” he says. “She really shook it up book to book. It’s not just a change of whodunit, she was mixing genres. She was throwing crazy narrative spins that had never been done in whodunits before. She was really keeping the audience on their toes.” 

Glass OnionNetflixSitting down to write Glass Onion—a dinner party turned deadly—Johnson’s mandate became to create something visually new, yet thematically familiar. “Trading the browns of New England for the blue and yellows of Greece felt like a really obvious ‘Oh, we’re in a whole new deal here,’ ” says Johnson. “Also, as much as there’s a rich tradition of murder mysteries in the cozy English countryside, there’s very much a rich tradition of destination murders.” 

Glass OnionNetflixAfter the success of Johnson’s first murder mystery (and the promise of a Greek getaway) this new all-star cast was eager to pursue parts in the sequel. “I was like, ‘Get me in the room,’ ” says Kate Hudson, who plays “sweatpants entrepreneur” Birdie Jay, adding: “I did my best, and that best seemed to find me here.” Around the table Hudson is joined by Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn and Leslie Odom, Jr., among others. “My head spins when I think about the fact that we were able to get this group together,” says Johnson. “It’s a little bit like throwing a dinner party in that, we know we’re going be on location together and be stuck together for a while. So, you’re trying to cast cool people who are hopefully going to get along and have a good time together.”  

Glass OnionNetflixHahn compares the group to a theatre ensemble, where the set felt like backstage and on-stage. “We really did get to, and have to, spend every single day together,” she says. “Rian was able to find a group of humans that was able to just be there for the thing, starting with Daniel, who had been through it before and was there with such a welcoming generosity of spirit.” In fact, even when the cameras weren’t rolling, the actors were still there for each other. “There were so many shots where the camera was on one person, but if you turned it around, you’d see the rest of us all crowded around behind the camera for someone’s reaction shot,” says Hahn. “To all be there was pretty remarkable and hilarious.” 

Glass OnionNetflixThree-time Academy Award-nominee Norton was easily convinced to join the project—and not just for the material. “The experience of a summer theatre troupe has a special pleasure. It reminds you of your high school drama club, for those of us who were dorky enough to be in the high school drama club,” he says. “It’s amazing how much seriousness we layer over so many of the things we do. Obviously, this is a hardworking bunch of people, but when you liberate yourself from any pretention to be doing anything other but entertaining the audience, entertaining yourselves, entertaining each other, it’s incredibly wonderful.”   

The cast can’t help but praise Craig, whom Norton says has more in common with Benoit Blanc than he does with suave super-spy James Bond. “There’s a lot more Benoit in Daniel than that other franchise thing he does,” says Norton. “James Bond is acting. Blanc is Daniel.” Similarly, for Hahn, watching Craig work was pure privilege. “He’s a consummate professional who shows up ready to deliver every line. He honours Rian’s words and brings something just spectacular,” she says. “I was just floored by his physical comedy too. 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.” 

Glass OnionNetflixBut without Johnson’s brilliant script, there would be no popular franchise. “I think the reason that Knives Out was so much fun is that Rian is actually weaving it into the zeitgeist of the moment,” says Norton. “He’s found a way to have all the fun of the convention and the mechanisms and the traditions. But you can see the times you’re living in, and characters who represent the foibles of our moment. If you can see yourself and your moment in it, you enjoy and relate to it more. And I think Rian has pulled that off very uniquely.”  

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery debuts Friday, December 23 on Netflix