Rian Johnson Shares ‘Poker Face’ Details: It’s More of a ‘How-Dunnit’ Than ‘Whodunnit’

Just like "Knives Out" was inspired by Agatha Christie mysteries, Johnson told IndieWire that his new show is an homage to classic detective shows like "The Rockford Files."
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 10: (L-R) Karina Longworth and Rian Johnson attend the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Karina Longworth and Rian Johnson
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Hot off the success of “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” Rian Johnson is continuing to remind audiences that he’s Hollywood’s undisputed king of murder mysteries with this month’s premiere of “Poker Face.” The Peacock series, which Johnson created and directed several episodes of, is a case-of-the week show starring Natasha Lyonne as a private detective who can instantly tell when someone is lying. While Lyonne’s Charlie Cale will be the primary reoccurring character, the show also boasts a murderer’s row of celebrity guest stars including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adrien Brody, Chloë Sevigny, Jameela Jamil, and Ron Perlman.

“Glass Onion” featured a sly nod to the series when Natasha Lyonne appeared as herself, playing a game of “Among Us” with Benoit Blanc and notable mystery enthusiasts like Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But fans expecting “Poker Face” to simply be an episodic version of “Knives Out” should probably manage their expectations.

Speaking to IndieWire on the Golden Globes red carpet, Johnson offered fans some new details about his upcoming Peacock procedural. While the series is still influenced by his love of murder mysteries, he says that “Poker Face” will differentiate itself from the “Knives Out” franchise by swapping Agatha Christie novels for classic detective shows as its primary source of inspiration. Each episode will focus less on the killer’s identity and more on the process of catching them.

“Well ‘Poker Face’ is a very different deal,” Johnson said. “It’s a little bit more of a ‘how-dunnit’ or a ‘how-catch ’em.’ It’s kind of a throwback to ‘Magnum P.I.’ or ‘Rockford Files’ or ‘Columbo.’ And like ‘Columbo,’ we show you the murder in the first act. We show you who did it. And then it’s how Natasha Lyonne’s character is going to end up catching them. So for me, it’s a very different game to the whodunnit. It’s kind of a throwback to the type of TV I grew up loving, that case-of-the-week guest star-driven, really fun type of one-hour show.”

Lead star Natasha Lyonne exclusively told IndieWire that her character Charlie has “Jeff Bridges ‘The Dude’ energy from ‘The Big Lebowski.'”

The first four episodes of “Poker Face” begin streaming on Peacock on Thursday, January 26. New episodes will be released weekly after that.


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