Rian Johnson just might have mastered the art of the sequel.
After helming controversial “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Johnson revisited his “Knives Out” whodunnit world with follow-up “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” streaming December 23 on Netflix. The film premiered at 2022 TIFF and marked another collaboration between Johnson and “The Last Jedi” production designer Rick Heinrichs.
However, “Glass Onion” decidedly had more layers to peel back in production than Johnson’s “Star Wars” installment, according to the filmmaker. The Oscar-nominated writer-director revealed that while the two films are a “very different animal” from one another, “Glass Onion” was a “scarier” film to make.
“First of all, ‘Last Jedi’ was actually a proper sequel, continuing the events from a movie that I didn’t write,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. “With this, first of all, it’s not even really a sequel, it’s kind of like another book, basically another mystery with the same detective. If anything, going into it was a little scarier even than the ‘Star Wars’ movie, because the first one, when we made it, it was in such a vacuum and we had no idea if people would be into this kind of thing. Genuinely, it was just something that I really loved, a genre I loved, and I’m like, ‘Let’s try this.'”
Johnson’s blockbuster “Knives Out” film spurred a Netflix deal with more of the Daniel Craig-led murder mysteries to come.
“The fact that people enjoyed it and the fact that it was popular — when you put something out there, this happens anyway, but especially, I think, in this case — it becomes something outside of you and you kind of forget how you made it,” Johnson said. “And so, it was scary. I’ve never experienced nerves quite like actually sitting down to write something. I also spent 10 years planning ‘Knives Out,’ whereas this, I was kind of starting from scratch.”
Johnson also saw “Glass Onion” as a way to address modern politics and to “very brazenly engage with what’s going on right now with America.”
He clarified, “Not that these are incredibly nuanced message movies or commentaries at all. They’re big, popular entertainments, but part of it is not shying away from, ‘Yes, this is set right here and right now, and we’re going to be talking about stuff we’re talking about right now.’ That’s what Agatha Christie did back in the day. She wasn’t writing period pieces.”
Johnson also confirmed plans to continue his long-awaited “Star Wars” trilogy that was announced in 2017. “It’s just at this point a matter of schedule and when it can happen,” Johnson said. “It would break my heart if I were finished, if I couldn’t get back in that sandbox at some point.”
IndieWire’s Kate Erbland gave “Glass Onion” an A- review, writing, “Johnson needn’t worry about a sophomore slump, because while ‘Glass Onion’ holds some resemblance to his 2019 smash hit (stacked casts, lavish locations, Daniel Craig having the time of his goddamn life), this sequel is zippily and zanily its own thrill ride, and Johnson can’t churn these babies out fast enough.”