Easter eggs are in nearly every movie these days — heck there’s a whole film coming out that’s one giant Easter egg — so you can’t blame a director for dropping in a reference to his most beloved movie.

Moon was the breakout directorial debut for Duncan Jones, winning him the attention of Hollywood and the ardor of sci-fi fans who quickly labelled the 2009 movie as a modern classic. Now, after dabbling in blockbuster studio filmmaking with Warcraft and Source Code, Jones has been given almost complete creative freedom by Netflix to pursue his longtime passion project, Mute. And some of that creative freedom goes to making a fun nod to his most beloved film.

Warning: This post contains minor spoilers for Moon and Mute.

Mute, which takes place in a gritty futuristic Berlin, and Moon, which takes place on the on — you guessed it — the moon, are both set in the same universe. The revelation of the Mute and Moon connection comes courtesy of a cameo from Moon star Sam Rockwell.

The Mute and Moon Connection

In Moon, Rockwell plays a lone astronaut named Sam Bell who discovers that he has been cloned against his will in order to perpetually operate a Moon base on the cheap. The movie ends with the latest clone flying to Earth to confront his corrupt employer, Lunar Industries.

Rockwell’s cameo in Mute is fleeting, but offers some closure to the ending of his character. He appears as number 156 of Sam Bell’s clones in a newscast watched by the mute bartender, Leo (Alexander Skarsgard), in a court trial against Lunar Industries. And Rockwell can be seen again in a poster decorating a dimly lit street.

How Sam Bell Fits in the Film

Jones had teased the possibility of a Mute and Moon connection nearly two years ago, just before Mute was set to start production. Indeed, a connection already exists, as Rockwell was initially set to star in Mute before plans fell through and Jones made Moon instead. But Sam Bell’s cameo in Mute was more than just an Easter egg, Jones told Entertainment Weekly:

“It was really good fun. Sam was wondering, ‘How does this fit into the film?’ I was like, ‘Look, it’s a little Easter egg for those people who cared about what happened at the end of Moon, and it fits into this universe’ — because the idea is that that story of [Moon] is ongoing in the background of this story. If we do ever a chance to do a third movie, maybe we can tie all of these things together a little bit more.”

“We had the opportunity with poster campaign of freeing Sam Bell,” Jones told Inverse. “For me, if you accept that it needed to be a science fiction film, putting it together with Moon wasn’t that much a difficulty. It was more like, how can I unobtrusively wrap up the story of Moon in this story in a city environment.”

The cameo is relatively unobtrusive, though the connection to Moon probably didn’t do Mute any favors. In his review, /Film’s Chris Evangelista called Mute, “frustrating film – one loaded with potential, but lacking distinction.”

Here is the official synopsis for Mute, which is currently streaming on Netflix:

In a Berlin of the future, a mute bartender’s search for his missing lady-love takes him deeper and deeper into the city’s criminal underbelly.

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