Rian Johnson Interview at PFF 31

Rian Johnson talks about how to make a good mystery.

At this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival, I was lucky enough to attend as press which meant I got the chance to chat with Rian Johnson. The sequel to Knives Out called Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery played at the festival. The film itself is an incredible follow up to the first film with an outstanding ensemble cast. Rian Johnson only dives further into the world of mysteries. The sequel brings the series investigator Detective Blanc, played by the incredible Daniel Craig, back for another adventure.

I got the chance to chat with Rian Johnson for a bit about Detective Blanc, Daniel Craig’s role in helping further the characters development, and the framework of this film’s mystery.

GC: So, I always like to start off with a hard-hitting question. What’s your favorite sandwich?

Rian claps and lifts his hands up in anticipation. 

RJ: Sandwich…I mean, the first thing that sprung into my head was a BLT. So I guess I have to be honest and say a BLT.

GC: It’s a good one.

RJ: Yeah!

As I start my next question, the Knives Out’s director tilts his head a little to hear me better.

GC: So, this being the second outing of Detective Blanc, how do you approach letting him grow as a character without overshadowing the larger than life personalities he’s investigating?

RJ: Well, I think for me —Daniel and I have kind of talked about this— weirdly, in a way, I feel like going too deep into the character, the detective, is a mistake. I feel like remembering the detective is not actually— he’s at the center of it, but he’s not like the protagonist of it. Like, it’s always one of the suspects that is in the role of the protagonist. So keeping the detective kind of an enigma, I think is actually really important in these movies. At the same time, it’s fun to drop little glimpses of what his life is like. And we do that in this movie, too.

GC: What is the process with Daniel like on the character itself? How do you approach that?

RJ: I hand him the script!

We both chuckle at his comment. It sounds simple, yet there’s more underneath. 

RJ: And then he makes it his own. Not by changing the script, but by embodying it. And I mean, he did so much work developing that accent. And then with this movie, he had to completely relearn the accent because he didn’t want to just do an imitation of the first spelling. So he kind of started from scratch and build it up again. The reason we’re here with the second one and the reason we’re going to keep going is because he and I have a blast doing this. He’s so cool to work with. He’s one of the best actors on the planet, great movie star and a cool guy. So, fuck him, you know?

We laugh together again. Fuck Daniel Craig, he’s the best.

GC: It’s always good to hear. So you’re clearly a man who loves a good mystery. With this, it seems like you’re telling me more of a semi-locked-in-room-style format of mystery. What made you want to approach it that way rather than a wide-open world investigation?

RJ: I mean, with a good mystery, you’re always looking for ways to contain the suspects, that’s one. So it’s not like it takes place in a mall and anyone there could have done it. It needs to be contained. This, in particular, it doesn’t have a lot in common; we’re there, then we’re done. One thing it does have in common is the way I did that was put them on a remote island where they’re all alone. So just because of that, it is kind of more insular. But to me, that’s fine, because it means that within that we can use that kind of simplicity and the interior thing to do something a little more complicated with the structure of the movie.

Not even a spoiler, I guess, but sounds like one.

Time is up, and our conversation comes to an end. For now.

GC: Thank you!

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