Rian Johnson's Knives Out Script Left A Lot Of Freedom For Daniel Craig

How does a filmmaker go about creating one of pop culture's newest and most memorable original characters in recent years? Well, since the movie gods tend to be a cruel and fickle lot, setting out with the intentions of making a movie with that desired effect is probably a surefire way to make sure you don't accomplish that. Writer/director Rian Johnson luckily did no such thing when it came to 2019's "Knives Out," instead letting the story, the characters, and most importantly the actor dictate where to take an eccentric fellow like Benoit Blanc. Brought to life so unforgettably by Daniel Craig, audiences immediately gravitated towards the hard-boiled private detective and soon had that enthusiasm rewarded with the promise of more "Knives Out" sequels to come.

With "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" set to release later this month, Johnson is making the press rounds and addressing the pressing question of just how he came up with the murder-mystery genre's latest hero, following in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and many, many more. Well, it apparently boils down to a very simple and straightforward answer: Johnson got out of his own way and let the performer have the freedom to define the role as he saw fit. 

'I underwrote the character'

Having a résumé filled with the likes of "Brick," "The Brothers Bloom," "Looper," and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" should be the first and final word on Rian Johnson's writing prowess ... but sometimes filmmakers are best served stepping back and letting others take the wheel, especially with regards to certain characters and performances. That's exactly what the "Knives Out" director did with Benoit Blanc, according to Johnson himself. In a profile with Entertainment Weekly, Johnson explained the unique process involved in crafting such a scene-stealing figure. In what's sure to be a surprise to many fans, he revealed that he never actually wrote the character with Daniel Craig specifically in mind. In fact, he did just the opposite and resisted the urge to fill in too many of the blanks that would allow an actor to truly make the role his own.

 "I underwrote the character. I tried to keep any big, obvious quirks out, [hoping] that the character would fill out with the actor."

The benefits of this approach are apparent for all to see, seeing how the former James Bond actor ultimately stepped in and breathed life into the brilliant (and strange!) detective. His mannerisms, his delightful accent, and that monologue about a donut hole inside a donut hole? All of that came as a result of both Johnson and Craig's mutual collaboration. With the highly-anticipated sequel upon us, audiences are about to get a double dose of Benoit Blanc goodness. With multiple sequels planned revolving around the continued adventures of this quirky PI, that's nothing but music to our ears.

"Glass Onion" will arrive in select theaters on November 23, 2022. Its Netflix debut will follow a month later on December 23, 2022.