Kate Hudson was adamant that she wanted to be part of Rian Johnson's Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (available on Netflix Dec. 23) after reading the script for the film.
“I was slipped the script and we knew that this part was going to be cast, and I was like, ‘get me in the room,’” Hudson said during a virtual press conference. “Rian said, sure, come on in the room. Let’s see what you can do with Birdie.”
“I did my best, and that best seemed to find me here.”
Getting rave reviews since the film premiered at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September, there is no question that Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is even better than the original Knives Out film from 2019.
Daniel Craig returns to the Knives Out world as Benoit Blanc, but instead of the New England landscape he journeys to a private estate in Greece for this murder mystery.
Miles Baron (Edward Norton) is an insufferable tech billionaire who hosts a group of friends at his home, which is equipped with a giant dome structure, called the Glass Onion.
The A-list guest list includes his former business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe), scientist Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.), Connecticut governor Claire Debella (Kathryn Hahn), influencer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) and his girlfriend Whiskey (Madelyn Cline), fashion designer and ex-model Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and her assistant Peg (Jessica Henwick).
As inspiration for this enticing, exciting and comedic whodunit, Rian Johnson looked to Agatha Christie's storytelling.
"When Daniel and I were making the first one, even when we were on set, we were just having such a good time," Johnson said. "We were like, if this does even moderately well, it’d be really fun to keep making these."
"The mode in which we were thinking to keep making them was always not to continue the story of the first one, but to treat them the way Agatha Christie treated her books and to do an entirely new mystery every time. A new location, new rogues gallery of characters... 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."
In fact, Kathryn Hahn herself couldn't even figure out this murder mystery as she was initially reading the script.
“I thought I could, but I really was surprised,” Hahn said.
“Just based on the flow of this conversation so far, you'll probably understand when I say, when I was reading it, I knew that Kathryn would not get who was the murderer,” Edward Norton joked at the press conference.
In addition to the brilliant story structure, there is a little spark of magic that happens when you watch this particular ensemble work together. We've all seen movies where the cast is stacked with impressive stars but something about the mix falls flat for the audience. Glass Onion is the complete opposite experience.
“It’s a little bit like throwing a dinner party in that it is an ensemble, we know we’re going to be on location together and all be kind of stuck together for a while,” Johnson said. “So, you’re also just trying to cast cool people who are hopefully going get along and have a good time together.”
As Edward Norton described it, this film harkens back to being an ensemble putting on a play.
“For a lot of us who came into this through theatre or just that idea of being in a repertory company, an ensemble, it has a special pleasure,” Norton said. “It reminds you of your high school drama club.”
“There's a funny irony to making films or doing theatre,...it's a bunch of adults playing dress up and pretending to be other people, and it's kind of amazing how much seriousness we layer over that… Obviously this is a hardworking bunch of people, but I think when you liberate yourself from any pretension to be doing anything other [than] entertaining the audience, entertaining yourselves, entertaining each other, it's incredibly wonderful.”
If you watch Glass Onion and think that Edward Norton's Miles reminds you of any notably unbearable tech professionals, that was the intention.
“Rian and I have been talking about this a lot, the list of people it could be grows longer every day,” Norton said. “I said to Rian, I think that it's sort of like Carly Simon's song, 'You're so vain you'll probably think this song is about you.' I think that there are a lot of tech illuminati who probably will and should think that it's in reference to them.”
For Norton, that likeness to people in our reality is part of the genius of Rian Johnson's writing.
“I think a lot of what we've seen is reheated beans, in a way, and I think the reason that Knives Out was so much fun is that Rian has done...what Agatha Christie was doing, which is actually weaving it into the zeitgeist of the moment,” Norton said.
“You can see the times you're living in and characters who represent the foibles of our moment, it gives it that extra thing... I think to take something and make sure that it's for the audience, that it's of the moment that they're living in.”