Glass Onion Producer Ram Bergman On The Challenges Of Pulling Off The New Murder Mystery [Exclusive Interview]

Rian Johnson's next "Knives Out" mystery, "Glass Onion," is in theaters for just one week starting on November 23, and the 139-minute movie, as /Film's review of the film points out, is a bigger, funnier, and twistier whodunnit than Johnson's last foray into the genre.

Leading up to the movie's brief theatrical run, I talked with "Glass Onion" producer Ram Bergman, who shared that Johnson had the entire conceit of the movie laid out before he even wrote the script. We also talked about what it was like to shoot such a massive film with such a large ensemble cast in the middle of the pandemic, and also moved beyond "Knives Out" to talk about his next Rian Johnson collaboration: the mystery-of-the-week series on Peacock, "Poker Face," which stars Natasha Lyonne as a woman on the run who has an uncanny ability to tell when someone is lying.

Check out our full interview below, which is completely spoiler-free!

'Holy s***, he pulled it off'

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

I know you've been working with Rian through most of his career, and you're probably one of the first people to see his scripts. What were your first thoughts when he sent you the script for "Glass Onion?" Did any parts of it stick out in your mind as being different than what he's done before?

So first of all, before he sent the script, he pitched me the idea.

How did he pitch it to you?

He literally worked through all the key bits, and we talked about the conceit of the movie, which was like, "Wow, okay, this is completely different, as it should be." But I didn't expect it, and it's a challenge. I think we both realized, "Okay, if you can pull it off, that's going to be really cool, but it's going to be very challenging to pull it off."

But again, if I'm always going to bet on somebody, I'm going to bet on Rian. He went and wrote the script and sent a first draft to me. When you read one of Rian's scripts, they are very dense. You read them, and you read them again, and you still know — the same way when you're watching a movie — that you're going to miss so many different things. You read it, and you read it again and you realize, "Oh, you missed this. Oh, this is what he meant, you missed it."

But it was such a fun ride reading the script. I was like, "Holy s***, he pulled it off." But right away, I said, "Okay, I knew what the conceit is going to be. I need people who don't know what the conceit is and see how they respond." So we have a close group of people, Rian's friends, that don't know anything. We started testing it with them to see how they respond. And then we keep working and just made it better and better through all the stages of making the movie.

But I was having so much fun reading it. It was, again, a delight and a ride. The first one was a ride, but this one was a real ride, so I just could not wait to see how it turned out.

You mentioned Rian has a core group of friends he shares things with. Are those people in the industry and anyone we might know?

In the industry and not, but yes, absolutely. The way we make things — either the process of writing or even the editorial process — we always have a group of friends and family that we share things with. We have a screening room in our office, we invite friends and we screen every week or every few weeks and just see how people respond before we go out and test it in the real world.

'My job is to create a playground, make sure everything is there, and let Rian go play with the actors'

"Glass Onion" is bigger in scope than the first "Knives Out" movie, and you're also shooting during a pandemic. I'm sure there are several challenges to that production, but I would love to hear about filming in Greece — were there any particular hurdles or challenges that were particularly memorable?

We filmed in Greece and in Belgrade during the middle of the Delta wave. So the main thing there, obviously, is how the hell do you make sure that none of the cast or Rian or the key crew test positive? Because if you have to shut down for two weeks, the ripple effect with so many actors who are working together, what it does to the schedule, is a killer. So that's one thing: How do you make sure that they still have fun, but you keep them in some sort of a mini-bubble?

That was the main thing. The other thing was, you didn't have a lot of flights, you can't ship stuff, you can't find crew anywhere, because there were so many films and TV shows going on. So that was the struggle. My most important work with my job is to create a playground, make sure everything is there, and let Rian go play with the actors and have fun.

'There's still nothing like this right now on TV'

I know you're doing more projects with Rian, one being the television series, "Poker Face." We've gotten a trailer already, and it looks great. Can you share anything else about the production process or tease what people will see?

I think Rian is bringing back, and we'll see — hopefully people respond — a case-of-the-week show with Natasha Lyonne essentially solving cases while she's on the run. It was a lot of fun, and something new for us. We have a few shows, but it's the first show that we are actually producing. Rian wrote the first and last episode, and he's directing three episodes. It was just a whole new experience, because the show takes place in different settings every episode. So it's almost like making 10 different movies. So that is a challenge to pull off, just period, to recast the show every time with completely new sets. But I hope people are going to respond to it, because again, there's still nothing like this right now on TV, I feel. It's on Peacock. Hopefully people discover the show and are going to enjoy it.

"Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" is in theaters for one week starting November 23, 2022 and on Netflix starting December 23.