Why Glass Onion Director Rian Johnson Didn't Write A Character Bible For Daniel Craig's Benoit Blanc

To tell a good mystery story, a writer doesn't need to unravel their detective like they do the mystery itself. In the stories of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the backstory is reserved for the suspects, victims, and the killers. The detective is a mere proxy, a character in the same shoes as the reader.

Nowadays, this isn't always the case. In the 21st century, detective stories carry more prestige than they did in the 19th or 20th because of Doyle and Christie's works. The rise in the genre has come with a change in how authors approach such stories as well. Take Tana French and her fantastic "Dublin Murder Squad" book series — each book follows a different detective who all come upon a case linked to their past. In solving it, each detective's self-perception is thrown up in the air. The series' formula is inextricable from how French develops her characters. Likewise, as the mythology of Sherlock Holmes has grown, modern adaptations have investigated the character more than Doyle did.

For writer-director Rian Johnson, however, the old ways are the best. "Knives Out" is a modern story told in a classical style. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is there to solve a murder, but Marta (Anna De Armas) is the center of the story. This is why you shouldn't go into the next "Knives Out Mystery," "Glass Onion," expecting more than a glimpse at Blanc's life outside of sleuthing.

It's all about the mystery

/Film's Ryan Scott took part in a press conference for "Glass Onion," attended by Rian Johnson, producer Ram Bergman, and several of the film's ensemble cast (Craig himself was absent). Johnson was asked if he provides character bibles to his actors so they have something outside the story itself to inform their performance. Here's what he had to say:

"I think we probably all had conversations separately [...] to me it's all about what did [the actors] need, but for me, the characters are very much created in the context of the story that's on the page and anything anyone needs beyond that, I'm happy to make s*** up."

Johnson has professed in the past that he cares more about storytelling than world-building. That's why he was able to make the most meaningful "Star Wars" film of the franchise's current era, but I digress. It's also why Johnson said during the press conference that he and Craig made sure that Benoit Blanc wasn't focused on too squarely:

"It's not like Daniel and I have a whole backstory bible. In fact we purposefully tried to remind ourselves with these movies that the movie's not interesting because you want to know more about Benoit Blanc — the movie's interesting because of the mystery, and the ensemble [cast], and the detective plays his role in that in the center of that in solving it, but the notion of doing some backstory for him or something, it's all about the mystery."

Like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, you follow Benoit Blanc because you like what he does, not because of who he is.

"Glass Onion" runs for a limited theatrical release the week of November 23, 2022, followed by a release on Netflix on December 23.