Actor Rian Johnson Breaks Down the Twists and Turns of ‘Knives Out’


The collection of Knives Out, the exceptionally entertaining murder mystery from director Rian Johnson, was something akin to”summer camp” for actors.

According to Johnson, members of the high profile cast — Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Daniel Craig, Lakeith Stanfield, Chris Evans, and Toni Collette to list a few — could huddle in a”funky rec space” from the basement of this grandiose mansion when they were shooting between takes and trade”war stories” about their time in the business.


It was, by all accounts, a lot. There aren’t plenty of warm words exchanged in Johnson’s whodunit revolving around the suspicious suicide of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a lauded author whose specialty appears to be gruesome murder plots.

Harlan’s departure is grandiosely staged, and a person (even though it’s unclear who initially ) has predicted in detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) to get to the base of it.

The Thrombeys are in one another’s throats, and Harlan’s nurse Marta (Ana de Armas) is trying to keep a low profile.

Even though Knives Out includes all the trappings of an Agatha Christie adaptation or Clue, it is a distinctly 2019 story one that wrestles with the inanity and bigotry of the Trump era.

Here, Johnson walks us through the film’s twists and turns, covering everything into the vaping in the end to the singing.

The first surprise of Knives Out is just how current it is. The idea of this whodunit is tied into the past, conjuring images of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, feather dusters, and drawing rooms.

However, Knives Out does not only nod to the reality that, yes, but mobile phones also exist now. It is actually about 2019. They live in a bubble of wealth although the Thrombey is not entirely Trumpian and a few are more sympathetic to his cause than others.

Meanwhile, the nurse Marta (Ana de Armas) appears as the protagonist of the story — no one by the Thrombey household can remember where her family is out of — but her mother is her and younger participation in Harlan’s death could lead to potential deportation. “One of the fascinating to me was this notion of making it modern-day, making it America in 2019,” Johnson explains.

“I was like, fine if we are going to do this le’ts not just give it a contemporary skin, that means really hammering it into right now. So often when we see whodunits these days they’re period pieces because they’re generally Christie adaptations and they have a kind of timeless feel to them”

That means the Thrombey’s have a fight about Trump’s border policies, and among the youngest members of this clan (Jaeden Martell) is a straight-up alt-right troll.

On a lighter note, there’s also vaping. Katherine Langford’s Meg, Harlan grandchild, takes some perhaps not so unobtrusive puffs. “In the script, I just have on a single line,’Meg vapes.’ It is like,’Jesus wept,'” Johnson says.

“I find vaping strangely funny. I do not smoke myself. I really don’t vape. I don’t understand, the fact that it’s this thing where everyone is sucking these little robots just cracks me up.”

Johnson knew he was not making a film that was subtle, but he was careful not to help it become didactic. But it’s not as if a course has not been critical to the genre.

“We’re utilized to seeing that class discussion happen in the context of British culture since so many of these tales are British,” Johnson says. “As Americans, we get to sort of cluck our tongues and say, ‘Oh, these Brits.

‘ We love to pretend here in America, that class does not exist. Therefore the idea of using that tool that who performed it to plug the idea of that would permit you to sort of look at matters of kind of privilege that looked really interesting.

And obviously the personality Marta is kind of in the heart of the in our movie.” Johnson cast Cuban actress Ana de Armas, best known for her work in Blade Runner 2049, at the character, impressed with her audition in which she”would go for the determined, strong option.”