‘Glass Onion’: Janelle Monáe on Andi, Easter eggs and extra

Warning: Spoilers for “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” forward. Don’t learn except you wish to know who dies and who the killer is.

It’s proper there within the title, then explicitly acknowledged through the film: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” is a film with layers. Layers that by some means handle to disclose and conceal in equal measure, as writer-director Rian Johnson and his solid unveil shock after shock.

Within the movie, tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) invitations a bunch of outdated associates to his personal Greek island for a weekend-long homicide thriller get together at which he would be the sufferer and they’ll resolve his (fake) loss of life. Amongst his friends — performed by Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick and Madelyn Cline — are sudden faces. One is world-renowned detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, reprising his function from “Knives Out”); the opposite is Andi Model (Janelle Monáe), a former associate who not too long ago misplaced a contentious lawsuit towards Bron.

One of the vital ingenious and playful facets of the movie is the way in which wherein “Glass Onion” reveals itself to be rather more than a whodunit. It additionally revels within the query of who will get killed. “ The mystery is not the thing that’s going to keep the audience in their seats,” Johnson defined in an interview earlier this fall. “The mystery is, in a way, set dressing and the reality is that the audience is going to experience this and the narrative sitting in their seats as a movie, and that’s how you have to make the thing tick. That’s how the machine has to actually work.

“And so I’m thinking in terms of sequences and what drives it forward and the mystery kind of weaves its way throughout,” Johnson mentioned. “But the notion that these movies, or that any whodunit thing is actually a puzzle the audience can solve, is completely an illusion. The reality is these are roller-coaster rides, or the best ones are, and they need to function first and foremost as a fun time in the theater. You have to be leaning forward, not leaning back and stroking your chin and trying to figure it out.”

Having premiered on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant and receiving an uncommon one-week-only theatrical launch round Thanksgiving, “Glass Onion” is now reaching its widest viewers but streaming on Netflix.

Janelle Monáe and Daniel Craig in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”

(John Wilson / Netflix)

Right here’s the place the spoilers are available in.

At first it seems that the thriller will revolve across the loss of life of certainly one of Bron’s friends, Duke Cody (Bautista), who dies immediately when he by accident drinks pineapple juice, to which he’s severely allergic. However it’s quickly revealed that the girl the get together attendees assume is their outdated good friend Andi is definitely her twin sister, Helen, who’s there to resolve Andi’s current, not-yet-public homicide with the help of grasp sleuth Blanc. Because the revelations pile up, we study that Bron is the movie’s true villain: A rapacious, not-as-bright-as-he-seems robber baron whose unchecked ego and ambitions result in his spectacular downfall. (Maybe that half sounds acquainted.)

The twist that Monáe is the truth is taking part in two roles as Andi and Helen comes partway by way of the movie — and as Monáe defined in an interview this week, it was as a lot a shock to her when she first learn the script as it’s to viewers.

“When I was reading it, I had no clue,” mentioned Monáe, even though she and Johnson had beforehand conversed concerning the undertaking through Zoom. “And so when I got to the twist and when I got to the character and the energy he wanted me to play, I was blown away.”

As for the problem of taking part in two elements, Monáe mentioned, “I used to think of them as two characters, Helen and Andi, but in talking with Rian I essentially was playing three characters: I was playing Helen and I was playing Andi and I was playing Helen pretending to be Andi. Rian even says, like, a fourth one. So I had to keep at least three to four different notebooks.”

Costume designer Jenny Eagan, who additionally labored on “Knives Out,” spoke about outfitting Monaé because the separate characters of Helen and Andi, in addition to Helen portraying Andi.

“There’s this presenting oneself with, ‘I’m OK. I’m still fine,’ and then we step back and we think, ‘Well, this is Helen pretending to be Andi, so maybe then you get a little bit into this is how Helen sees her sister,” Eagan mentioned. “It might not have been what Andi wore, but it probably was owned by Andi. I’m sure Helen went into her closet and took those clothes. And then we get to Helen. She’s a schoolteacher, she’s grieving, and she’s on a quick trip, so there’s not a lot for her to bring.”

For Monáe there was a easy method to distinguish between the sisters.

“The distinction between the two, Andi and Helen, is really all about the voice,” Monáe mentioned. “[Andi] is a very powerful, successful woman who is in a room full of sharks and tech bros every day. And there is some sort of performance that she has around what power looks like.

“She has a voice that just sounded like power. You didn’t know where she was from. And she always thought that keeping her Alabama accent would make people think she wasn’t smart or that she was country. She was very insecure about that. But her sister Helen, who remained with her voice from northern Alabama, is absolutely smart. As you see who she is over the course of this film, both of them are brilliant within their own right, but one of them didn’t have to assimilate to prove that.”

A scene from "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery'

Edward Norton, foreground, with, from left, Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr., Kathryn Hahn, Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline and Dave Bautista in “Glass Onion.”

(Netflix)

One of the movie’s subtlest jokes is a flashback in which Norton’s character wears a maroon shirt under a black leather vest with his long-ish hair pulled back into a short ponytail. It is an imitation of an outfit worn by Tom Cruise in the 1999 Paul Thomas Anderson movie “Magnolia” as the men’s-rights motivational speaker Frank T.J. Mackey.

“Edward was so genius in the beginning, saying Miles Bron has never had his own idea in his life, he looks at everyone else for inspiration or exact copying,” Eagan said. “Imitation is his game. It’s all kind of those people he’s looking up to and he assumes that he can be. It’s so on the nose, so ridiculous: Who does this guy think he is?”

A long sequence that plays out poolside at Bron’s estate is seen once before audiences know the truth about Helen’s identity and then is seen again once the perspective has shifted, with the performances playing out differently.

“I didn’t quite understand it when he was asking us to do it in different ways,” Monáe said of Johnson’s direction. “I knew that we had to do the flashbacks and the POVs and all of that, but when you’re just doing them as stand-alones and you haven’t seen the film edited, you don’t know how it’s going to land.”

As of now, Monáe has seen the film eight times and is still making discoveries.

“When you watch it and you watch that first act, it’s all right there, in plain sight,” Monáe said. “I’m like, ‘Rian, you sneaky, sneaky boy.’ But it’s supposed to throw you off. Spoiler alert … if you watch it that second or third time, you’ll see exactly when the killer takes the gun and where the killer puts the gun and puts the glass and all of those things.

“It’s like you think that you’re so smart as the person watching it and you’re like, ‘How the hell did I miss that?’” Monáe said. “You want to keep replaying it just to make sure Rian’s not playing tricks on you. He’s playing tricks and he’s also being honest at the same time.”

A scene from 'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery"

“It’s like you think that you’re so smart as the person watching it and you’re like, ‘How the hell did I miss that?’” Monáe mentioned of “Glass Onion.”

(John Wilson/Netflix © 2022)

Alongside cameos by the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Serena Williams, Stephen Sondheim, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Natasha Lyonne and Angela Lansbury, Hugh Grant seems as Benoit Blanc’s live-in associate. In a quick second within the movie, Helen first involves the door of Blanc’s condominium and Grant is the one who solutions. Besides Monáe didn’t know that when she shot her aspect of the scene, as a result of Grant wasn’t there.

“It was a surprise for me too,” Monáe mentioned. “It’s so funny, we were not in the same place shooting that, so essentially Hugh was probably talking to a stand-in and I was talking to, I think Rian was on the other side of that door.”

Monáe described the finale, when Helen is revealed to the group, Bron is unveiled as Andi’s killer and Helen then smashes all of the glass collectible figurines in Bron’s opulent front room earlier than burning down his property, as “cathartic.” Nonetheless, she defined, the mayhem required meticulous choreography.

“I remember thinking about Bugs Bunny and the Joker, just this moment where Helen is showing up to avenge her sister’s death and she has nothing to lose,” Monáe mentioned. “I wanted to take people on a ride with her. It felt so good and it was so fun. I always just say I felt like a theater kid, a big kid making movies with my theater-kid, thespian friends and never wanting to go home.”

 Janelle Monae in 'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery'

Janelle Monáe in “Glass Onion.”

(John Wilson/Netflix © 2022)

For the reason that film has launched on Netflix and been seen by a wider group of individuals, it has impressed some criticism from those that don’t look after its satirical critique of the “move fast and break things” ethos of tech-bro tradition.

“Like Nina Simone says, an artist’s job is to reflect the times,” Monáe mentioned. “And I think that’s what Rian is doing, he’s reflecting our times in the same way that Agatha Christie was reflecting her times when she was making her mysteries. And for me, and I think I can say this for Rian, we never want to talk over the art. It’s great that people are talking about it or saying who they think it’s for or it’s pissing people off or making people laugh. That is what art is supposed to do and I love it.”