Why A Simple Glass Onion Scene Was The Most Difficult One To Write
Rian Johnson reveals which scene in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery was the hardest for him to write. A standalone sequel to 2019’s Knives Out, Glass Onion finds Daniel Craig’s master sleuth Benoit Blanc solving an entirely new mystery involving tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) and his motley crew of close friends, including his Alpha co-founder Cassandra Brand (Janelle Monáe). Midway through the movie, a twist reveals that Andi died a week earlier, and it is actually her twin sister Helen who is on the Greek island.
Speaking with Variety, Johnson revealed that it was this extended flashback that occurs exactly midway through the movie that was the hardest for him to write. The Glass Onion writer/director explained how the scene between Blanc and Helen on the detective’s apartment balcony was vital, as it reveals the film’s structure and essentially introduces the main character. Read what Johnson said below:
The scene between Blanc and Helen on Blanc’s New York apartment balcony is the lynchpin of the movie. It’s the scene where we reveal the structure of the entire film, showing our hand, and also where we introduce the main character, Helen. It had so many moving parts. The scene has to not only orient the audience as it flips what they think they’ve been watching on its head, but it also has to introduce a new character and have us like her, get on her side, and then clearly define her mission that will carry the second half of the movie. All of this [happens] in a long static conversation at a table at the exact midpoint of the movie, where the danger of the pace flagging is at its highest. I was rewriting that scene up to the last moment, and then shaping it drastically in the edit. The challenge before the scene is that the audience does not have an emotional proxy in this group of horrible murder mystery suspects. Blanc is the nearest thing we have, and he has to carry the water in that first half. In a big way I’m relying on the audience’s trust as the track is laid, and in the promise of the genre that a murder is coming, just be patient.
Why Helen’s Introduction In Glass Onion Is So Important
Johnson’s choice of which Glass Onion scene was the hardest for him to write may come as a surprise. On the surface, it’s a relatively straightforward scene involving a long static conversation between Blanc and Helen across a table. But underneath, there are so many moving parts that needed to be functioning properly in order for the scene to work as a whole.
As Johnson explains, the scene in question essentially introduces the main character of Helen and gets audiences to empathize with her. Even though she was seen in several scenes before, she was believed to be Andi. As a result, the viewer’s entire perspective of events up until that point is flipped on its head. Backtracking through an extended flashback midway through the movie also risks flagging the film’s pace, which Johnson had to be wary of while writing the pivotal scene.
Just like 2019’s Knives Out, Johnson’s subversive screenplay for Glass Onion received the honor of an Academy Award nomination. With another sequel on the way, it will be interesting to see how Johnson continues subverting expectations with Knives Out 3. Until then, audiences can revisit Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’s many twists and turns.