The Glass Onion Character Guide: Who's Who In Rian Johnson's Murderer's Row Of Characters

A rip-roaring murder mystery requires three key elements: an eccentric, whip-smart detective, a conclusion you wish you saw coming but didn't, and a colorful cast of suspects played by big name actors who each have a plausible motive to commit the crime. Rian Johnson's "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" has all three, making it a more than worthy successor to his 2019 hit "Knives Out." First, we have the return of Daniel Craig's southern-fried gentleman detective, Benoit Blanc, on the case. Second, Johnson continues to show he has a total handle on the twisty plotting of mysteries, so much so that he seemingly wants to make them forever.

Then there's the ensemble around Benoit Blanc. We have another star-studded affair for "Glass Onion" filled with Oscar nominees, comedic mainstays, and a couple of up-and-comers standing perfectly alongside the big guns. This ensemble actually has a name too: The Disrupters. Let's take a look at the this collection of potential culprits for you to get your mind racing about who puts the who in whodunnit. And don't worry, this guide is spoiler-free!

Edward Norton is Miles Bron

We live in a world where the eccentric, egotistical billionaire are becoming omnipresent and all the more destructive. Edward Norton's Miles Bron fits right alongside these deluded new money men. He is the co-founder and CEO of a tech company whose latest endeavor is fuel innovation. The reason for this get together of the Disrupters is at the behest of Miles, who invites everyone to his private island off the coast of Greece for a murder mystery party.

Miles is the kind of self-possessed guy who will buy whatever he wants simply to make himself feel powerful, and he has surrounded himself with people who don't push back if he does or says something hurtful, stupid, or downright nonsensical. He may not be based on one specific billionaire, but all these guys fit into a type. Miles is the clearest distillation of that type. His character introduction, which I dare not spoil, tells you everything you need to know about this man.

Janelle Monáe is Cassandra Brand

Cassandra Brand — or Andi, as she is better known — has been on the outside looking in of the Disruptors for a little while now. She also was a co-founder of the tech company with Miles, but clearly, she has been pushed out of the group at some point. As to why, you will need to see the film on your own, though you can probably guess it was unfairly done to her. In the December 2022 issue of Total Film (available November 10), Janelle Monáe talked about how she built the character of Cassandra:

"My character's like an amalgamation of a lot of different women of colour in the tech world, who have to be leaders, and have to navigate certain spaces ... I think I always want to do that sort of emotional building and research. What does it take to lead in that space? What are the stakes? What makes that sort of person tick?"

When we first meet Andi, she is cold, poised, and distant, but then she starts to slowly reveal more about herself. There is a lot to dig into with this character that can't be done until the film is out for everyone to see. As for now, all I can say is Janelle Monáe navigates this tricky role in spectacular fashion.

Kate Hudson is Birdie Jay

Birdie Jay can't seem to stop becoming embroiled in some kind of scandal. The model turned fashion designer has a past history of offensive social faux-pas that require her assistant take her phone away from her to stop her tweeting. Unfortunately, Birdie is also the kind of person who really doesn't understand why the stuff she does is offensive. She has the veneer of being bubbly and warm, but it's a fairly destructive naïveté. Hudson described her to Total Film as, "Very accessorized. She's elaborate. She's extra." Like most of the Disruptors, Birdie Jay is an egotist through and through.

A line could be drawn from Toni Collette's Joni Thrombey from "Knives Out" to what Kate Hudson is doing here, but Collette's character is far more savvy and duplicitous than her persona appears. Hudson's Birdie Jay is the very embodiment of that persona and all the baggage that comes with it.

Jessica Henwick is Peg

Jessica Henwick's Peg is not a member of the Disruptors. She is Birdie Jay's personal assistant, working far too hard to keep this woman's life in some kind of order. As Henwick herself put it to Total Film, "Peg is sort of the person who keeps Birdie from destroying herself." She is a personal assistant, a confidant, a PR manager, and a life coach all in one. Even though she is fully aware of what kind of person Birdie Jay is, Peg's relationship with her has gone on for too long that she is essentially tied to her boss' hip with no easy way to jump ship. If Birdie Jay self-destructs, the blame will inevitably be placed on her assistant for not managing her well enough, preventing her from getting a job elsewhere.

Peg is an all-too-real character that so many young people can unfortunately relate to. A person put in an unforgiving situation that they will just have to ride out and hope something better comes along to pull them out of it.

Kathryn Hahn is Claire Debella

One thing billionaires love to do is financially support politicians, and in turn, those politicians will be more prone to answer to money rather than stay true to the supposed political ideals they campaign on. Kathryn Hahn's Claire Debella is currently the governor of Connecticut and in the middle of a campaign to become one of the state's new senators. Her primary donor happens to be her old buddy Miles Bron, and even though they are friends, he is still a billionaire with an agenda. Does she feel particularly conflicted or bad about her reliance on this man for her political career? Well, I can't tell you every detail, can I?

What I can say is that she sees herself as is everyday soccer mom who rose to great political heights but to think she did it on her own merits would be another act of egotism. And if you are noticing a pattern with the different members of the Disruptors, ego is everything.

Leslie Odom Jr. is Lionel Toussaint

As is the case with Claire Debella, Leslie Odom Jr.'s Lionel Toussaint is financially dependent upon Norton's billionaire character. Actually, even more so than everyone else. Toussaint works directly for Miles Bron's tech company as a scientist, leading the development on the company's new fuel project. He is a classic intellectual who can only move forward in his work under the thumb — and in the pockets — of someone willing to fork over money for research and development. One of those "B.D. Wong in 'Jurassic Park'" scenarios. Of course he is uneasy about the work Bron has him do, but he doesn't have the guts to properly stand up to his boss who he has known as a friend for years, as he too is a Disruptor. Toussaint may not like being complicit, but he is nonetheless.

Dave Bautista is Duke Cody

The final member of the Disruptors is Duke Cody, played by Dave Bautista. Duke is a living, breathing personification of the Internet manosphere. He's a gun-toting Twitch streamer looking to promote every gross, toxic, stereotypically masculine trait possible. An Andrew Tate in the body of someone Andrew Tate wishes he could look like. Duke has even been briefly banned from Twitch for his work. While some of his posturing is certainly an act, the core of the kind of man he seeks to promote is exactly who he is, and like so many guys with these messed up views of the world, gender, and politics, he wants to get it on the news game and become a presenter, thus growing his toxic influence even more.

Duke has also received a not inconsiderable amount of financial support from one Miles Bron for his work, further showing how everyone is indebted to the money man. Very few of these Internet personalities can get anywhere without the backing of someone incredibly wealthy looking to spread a message they like. Bautista's Duke may be all bravado, but he knows he wouldn't be anywhere without his friend's money.

Madelyn Cline is Whiskey

Last but not least in our cadre of suspects is Madelyn Cline as Whiskey (which I assume is not her Christian name). Whiskey has come on this remote island getaway because she is Duke's girlfriend. Like everyone, she is playing the power game, using Duke as a way to build her own brand and following as an influencer. As Cline told Total Film, "[S]he doesn't have any personal ties with the other main characters, other than that she's been present for Duke."

While she is the image of your typical gorgeous social media personality, her demeanor strays quite a bit from the air-headed stereotype we expect. She isn't mindlessly snapping selfies and posing for "the 'Gram" at all times. If anything, Whiskey actually goes on the trip to have a good time. We do learn more about Whiskey as the film goes along that I cannot get into, though we see a brief glimpse of it in the film's trailer.

To see how this entire cast of characters come to a head for a rollicking murder mystery, you will just have to check out "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery," which is set to have a brief theatrical engagement starting November 23, 2022 and will then hit Netflix on December 23.