Glass Onion's Noah Segan Tells Us Everything You Want To Know About Derol, Your Favorite New Knives Out Character [Exclusive Interview]

Through two movies, writer/director Rian Johnson has demonstrated a remarkable ability to craft mysteries that can attract an A-list ensemble for the ages. Both "Knives Out" and its sequel "Glass Onion," which was recently released by Netflix, are led by Daniel Craig as ace detective Benoit Blanc, but he is joined by a slew of great supporting stars. This time around, that list included Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, and Kate Hudson, among many others.

Johnson has also, in both films, managed to include a staple from his filmography in the form of actor Noah Segan, who has been working with the filmmaker since as far back as "Brick." Segan played the lovable Trooper Wagner in the first film, and Johnson found a way to bring Segan back this time around, even though he was telling a completely different story. As anyone who has seen the film can attest, Segan didn't suit back up as his officer of the law. Rather, he plays an affable stoner by the name of Derol who is merely hanging out on billionaire Miles Bron's island as the mystery plays out.

Despites Miles' insistence that Derol is "not part of the experience at all," audiences have taken a liking to the guy, with Netflix even releasing an "Only Derol" video promoting the film. Well, I had the very good fortune of speaking with Segan about his return to the franchise recently to answer all of your burning questions about him. We discuss the inspiration for the character, how they settled on his wardrobe, whether or not he'll appear in "Knives Out 3," and much more.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

'Derol has been here the whole time'

You look at the movie and the cast for "Glass Onion" and it's at least as insane as the first one, if not even crazier. Then the internet took your character and ran with it. Derol has become his own very meme-ified thing. How has that felt seeing the response?

I think — it's just me — I think it's just illustrative of the world being ready for Derol, because Derol has been here the whole time. I think the world is meeting Derol, not Derol meeting the world. At the risk of reading too much into something that is fun and funny, I think that there's something not dissimilar, frankly, from Trooper Wagner in the first movie, where there's this perspective of the audience that I think is a little bit of a part of it. As an audience, it's like, we're just happy to be there. You know what I mean? We're just hanging out, having a good time. We're not bad people, we're not murderers, we're not all suspects in a horrific crime. We're just trying to have a good time. Maybe a drink, maybe a little party time.

I hadn't thought of it that way. You mentioned Trooper Wagner, was there any discussion between you and Rian of having Trooper Wagner come back? Or was it always, you are going to be a different character?

It's often hard to believe, because Rian and I are good friends and we do spend a lot of time together, but I generally don't know in what capacity I am going to be able to serve until I read a script. It's usually him sending me a usually pretty early draft, but a full draft of a script, and then I'll read it and then he'll say, "Hey, what about this?" That was how I was introduced to Trooper Wagner, and that's how I was introduced to Derol. In this case, it was a surprise. I think the way that the character — credit, of course, to Rian's writing — it's always very clear. It was very clear that Derol magically appears, and the purpose of Derol was very clear on the page. That wasn't Trooper Wagner, it was this new guy with this kind of new look and new story behind him.

One of the things, and it's not that anyone watching the movie would necessarily know this, but Derol is spelled like D-E-R-O-L. Did you have any say in the spelling of it? Or was that just on the page?

No, because Derol's name comes from a real guy named Derol.

Oh, no kidding?

Yeah. An old, old friend of Rian's is Derol. And Derol, the real Derol, is much like the fictitious Derol: a very gregarious, fun loving, easy hang. I think that as Rian was developing that character, I think that this old friend of his, there was a bit of a dovetail there and he decided to use the name.

Oh, that's fantastic.

That being said, I don't know of any other Derols. Do you know what I mean? I don't know if the real Derol knows of any other Derols. I don't know if it's a family name. I don't know where it comes from, but it didn't just come out of thin air.

Well right, and it's extremely unique. But what's funny about it is when you see it, it's like, oh, that guy totally is a Derol spelt that way.

That's why he's a brilliant writer. I think he sees these opportunities and knows exactly how to plot them out, so to speak.

'Every set of Rian's is going home'

So one thing, the wardrobe in the film has been talked about quite a bit. If you look at Miles, his character was clearly inspired by Tom Cruise in "Magnolia." That's not even a secret. Was your wardrobe inspired by anything specific? What was going through getting Derol's clothes together?

Well, I wish I could take credit, but [costume designer] Jenny Eagan, there is not enough that can be said about Jenny's work. It is incredible. She knows exactly what every character needs to bring them off of the page and onto the screen. I think, in the case of Derol, there overall was this beach bum kind of look. But I think, taking from the environment that we were in, which was this southern Grecian island look, I think a lot of materials and clothing were inspired by the locale. Then, we spiced it up a little bit. I wear a watch that was designed by a close friend of mine who has a company called Haven, and he designed this watch that's like a nice chronograph watch, but it has a tie dye dial.

It's the world's first tie dye dial watch, I think. I wear that in the movie. Then I wear a pair of sunglasses that were designed by another friend of mine who has a company called Old Jewish Men. They make shirts and accessories all with this joke about OJM, old Jewish men style, and he makes wraparound style sunglasses that we put around my neck, that I'm wearing throughout the film. There were a couple of things that found their way in from the personal collection, but it was all curated and designed by Jenny.

You mentioned Derol is based on, at least in part, by someone Rian actually knows. How much of the backstory for the character did you and Rian talk about? Or was that left to you?

Well, Rian has talked in the press about Derol being inspired by Kato Kaelin, who I've always been fascinated by as a pop culture character, as somebody who has woven their way, in this really specific way, into our collective consciousness. The ubiquitous character of Kato Kaelin, especially when I was a kid, Kato was everywhere. So I think that was a big inspiration. I also think the idea of having a friend who you are that close with, under those circumstances, is obviously quite different from the other friendships in the movie. You know what I mean?


I think that kind of thing, where you have somebody who is around and not necessarily always part of "the experience," that's a very specific kind of relationship. Whether it's the people that we went to college with or came up with in our jobs, there's an ease there that doesn't necessarily exist with every other friend that you have, even if you're super close with them or you see them all the time. I think we drew from that. But by and large, those were conversations just like I'm having with you, just to paint the picture. It didn't really have to go into the unknown. It was always couched in something that we could both connect on, which hopefully speaks to our actual friendship. The benefit of working with people that you already know and you like.

Did you feel the Netflix of it at all? The first one was essentially, more or less, an indie film that was acquired later. Then this one, you guys got a bigger budget, a Netflix movie. Did that change things at all from your experience shooting them, or was it still very much just a similar thing during production?

I got to say, I appreciate the question, but every set of Rian's is like going home. Every vibe is, frankly, the same vibe that we had on "Brick," that you're with your friends and your family and the people that you already know, and spend a lot of time with even outside of production, and you're back with them, really trying to do the same thing. Obviously, you might have a little bit more time, a little bit more money, a little bit more resources, but the vibe and the energy is really the same. Then, you have these new people who come in, and it's like if you've ever met a cousin or an auntie or an uncle who lives abroad, and you've never really met them or spent time with them before, but they're part of your family? That's what it's like when you have new cast and new crew come in.

The idea of having new partners, whether they're new actors or a new studio that you're working with, that's the vibe that carries over. It's the same vibe that you get when you show up and you see Steve [Yedlin] the cinematographer, Jaron [Presant] who's also in the camera department, or Dale [Myrand] who's a camera operator, these people you've seen for 20 years on movie sets. It's like, that kind of environment is so contagious in terms of having camaraderie and having fellowship that anybody new who comes in, it's like, great, join the team, join the club.

'We left it all on the dance floor, baby'

I know that you had talked, in another interview I've seen, that there was a deleted scene with Derol. But Derol just pops up at random times, and they're such crowd pleasing moments. Were there other alternate versions of scenes that actually exist in the film where Derol may have popped up, but then you guys decided it was better to keep him out of it?

I don't think so. I think that, to use a term, we used every part of Derol [laughs] to articulate. There's probably some shots or maybe even some alternate takes. I think on the last shot where you see Blanc and Derol having a smoke together, kind of reflecting. We did a couple of alternate lines that were not as good as what was scripted, which was f****** A, of course. But I think at one point I went, "Man, that guy turned out to be a dick," or something like that [laughs]. But by and large, what you see is what you got. We left it all on the dance floor, baby.

Look, I understand if you can't talk about it, but Rian's already said, I think he's writing the third one right now. I would have to imagine we're going to see another version of you in the third one, right? That's definitely happening?

Well, I can neither confirm nor deny anything. Because here's the thing: like I said, I generally know as much as anybody knows until I get to read a script, which is pretty far along in the process. Part of the joy of being a part of this family is that I can just sit back and offer myself and just say, "Hey, listen, however I can be a part of this and however I can be helpful and hang out with my friends and try to make something that is entertaining for people, that's all I want to do."

Hopefully, I can do that with them on the next one. But I don't really have any set expectations. It'd be a little awkward if he decided to finally drop me at this juncture. It would definitely be a little bit weird, but I think, by and large, whatever I can do, that's what I'm game for. Rian's writing process is very frustrating for those of us who also try to write, because Rian will do all of the work internally, and he'll kind of chew on things. He'll sit and work everything out. The computer, he's got a real super computer in that noggin, and he'll sit in there and do all the work and noodle in little notebooks. Then one day, he'll show up and say, "I think I've got it," and then a few weeks later, there's a script. Again, if you've ever tried to write anything, you're like, "How can you do it, man?" You know what I mean? That process is mercurial, and we'll see what he whips out for the third one.

Awesome. Well, before I let you go, I know you just had "Blood Relatives" come out, and we talked about that at Fantastic Fest and stuff. But what are you working on now? Are you doing anything right now or what do you got coming up?

Yeah. I'm just trying to get the next movie off the ground. I've got a project I'm really excited about that would definitely be with some folks who will not surprise you. If you look at the work that I've done, the people who I've done it with, I don't think that anybody will be surprised to see that we're getting back at it. Hopefully, it's something that we'll be able to shoot this year that I've written and plan to direct.

"Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" is streaming now on Netflix.