Rian Johnson And Daniel Craig Think Benoit Blanc's Backstory Is A Mystery Best Left Unsolved

"Knives Out" is a near perfect movie. There, I said it. Rian Johnson's love letter to the whodunit genre has everything you would want in a murder mystery; it is brilliantly written, full of surprises, has an exquisite ensemble cast you could easily watch just interacting for hours at a time, a gallery of suspects you love to hate, and some lovely cameos. Drawing inspiration from both Agatha Christie novels and shows like "Murder, She Wrote" and "Columbo," "Knives Out" also has the most important ingredient for a winning whodunit: a great detective. 

Enter Benoit Blanc, the secret sauce that makes "Knives Out" endlessly rewatchable. Like Columbo or Hercule Poirot, he is flamboyant, gentlemanly, kind of weird, and extremely brilliant, and Daniel Craig gives a stunning performance that is equal parts mesmerizing and hilarious. Now that "Glass Onion" is set to introduce a whole new cast of characters but bring Blanc back, Rian Johnson has effectively created a detective-led franchise that can go on forever, with a detective we can follow for years as he takes case after case. 

Having such a protagonist who we follow for several films can create one small problem: how much should audiences learn about Blanc? Once he stops being just a detective who take on a case, but a protagonist with a growing resume, it is hard to expect the audience not to ask questions about his backstory. And yet, it seems Johnson and Craig have no issue leaving Benoit Blanc's past a mystery.

'The more enigmatic he is, the better'

In an interview with Total Film for their December 2022 issue, Craig said he doesn't really care where Blanc comes from or what he did as a kid. "It's of absolutely no f***ing use to me when I'm on set," Craig said. "It's just like, 'He got into a fight when he was 10 years old, and he's got a scar on his left knee?' When I'm acting I'm like 'What?'"

Johnson agreed, and said "the more enigmatic he is, the better." Indeed, that is part of the allure of Benoit Blanc, the man who talks about himself in the third person, whose accent is as mysterious as the identity of the murderers he investigates. As Johnson describes it, the mystery is the movie. "Blanc's place as the detective in each one of those mysteries is what's interesting about him. I think it's fun to get just a glimpse, and tantalising, little hints, which is what [Agatha] Christie did with Poirot."

We have seen what happens when iconic detectives get a backstory, like when "Death On the Nile" revealed the secret origin story of Poirot's mustache for no reason whatsoever and gave it a purpose other than just being a fashion choice. We have thankfully not come to that point with Blanc, though "Glass Onion" does present one reveal about Blanc's personal life which adds to his characterization in interesting ways.

The December, 2022 issue of Total Film goes on sale November 10, 2022 and you can buy it here.