NOTE: This entire story presumes you have seen “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” on Netflix and know what happened.
I spoke with “Glass Onion” creator Rian Johnson and actress Janelle Monae earlier this month about the Netflix movie before its release and I wrote a preview. It came out Dec. 23.
We also spent a few minutes discussing elements of the movie that would be construed as spoilers. Here are some highlights:
Credit: Cr: John Wilson/NETFLIX
Credit: Cr: John Wilson/NETFLIX
― Monae ended up playing two characters. First, she’s Andi, billionaire Miles Bron’s estranged business partner he had recently pushed out. That is what viewers assume when she arrived on Miles’ Greek island, perhaps seeking revenge. But then we later find out that Andi had been murdered by one of the people on the island and that her twin sister Helen had taken her place.
This means the person who murdered her on the island (which ends up being Miles himself) knew this was Helen, not Andi. This gave Miles a motivation to kill Helen as well, which he tried but failed. In the end, Monae only played the actual Andi in flashback scenes. Helen, with a Southern accent, only played herself when she was revealed to be Helen or when she was interacting privately with Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), the detective Helen hired to suss out who murdered her sister.
“I had a wonderful time playing Andi and Helen,” Monae said. “I would say I played a third character: Helen pretending to play Andi. I had to make sure the audience didn’t know that for a good part of the movie. There are slightly different nuances to dig into. Rian had written such a beautiful script. Everything was on the page. We got to talking about the nuances up until the reveal. What would the hair that Helen pretending to be Andi look like? How can we differentiate it for people watching it a second or third time?”
- Helen’s surprise appearance in Greece in a flowing black, red and-white dress pretending to be Andi. Monae: “I have to give it up to hair and makeup with costumes. My wardrobe had to do a lot of the talking since I was so enigmatic and so mysterious. It needs to draw you in as soon as you see me.”
Johnson: “I remember that first day working. It was like choreographing a dance. We had to do a lot of technical stuff when she stepped forward in that dress and I framed it up. Is this going to work? I realized that she got this.”
- The popping sound every time the protective shield for the Mona Lisa closed up whenever anyone generated problematic noise: “The sound was added in post. We had it closing up. You’re talking about the tension building up to a big event. The thing pops closed and the tension builds more. That’s something we discovered in post. We had cut the scene without it. A friend of mine said it was so tense it reminded him of the firecracker scene in ‘Boogie Nights’.”
- Breaking all that glass. Monae: “It was a specific glass we use in moviemaking. Sugar glass. You can sneeze on it and it breaks. We only had three tries to do it. It was so much fun and super cathartic. I needed it during the pandemic. Let’s take this [expletive] out! Do it for all the times we just couldn’t do it.”
Johnson: “At this point, we had been on that set for a month tiptoeing around those glass figurines. We were ready to destroy that set, to burn that place down!”
Monae: “The glass was the epitome of Miles’ taste, which was terrible. It’s a lack of a taste, a hodgepodge of so much.”
Johnson: “We had a line cut out. Leslie [Odom]’s Lionel called him a ‘billionaire Big Bird.’”
Monae: “That is hilarious!”
- How Ed Norton made Miles likable. Johnson: “I think it’s because Edward is so smart and the audience knows that. They read a certain amount of intelligence in him. It’s that tension we feel about these billionaires in general. They seem like idiots but maybe they’re genius!”
Monae: “He says stupid things but don’t bet against him!”
Johnson: “We want to think they’re like Willy Wonka.”
- Why did Andi get the invitation box for the Greek weekend after Miles had just booted her from the company?
Johnson: “He had already made the boxes before Andi was murdered. He sends her one every year. It was a power play.”
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.