Even after hanging up 007’s Walther PPK, Daniel Craig is still on a mission. Fresh from his Bond finale in No Time To Die, he’s got a brand new murder-mystery to solve as Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Rian Johnson’s hugely-anticipated not-exactly-a-sequel to Knives Out. With the first film, the director and his leading man caught everyone off-guard – with Blanc’s wild Southern accent, with the film’s unexpected and unconventional twists on the whodunnit formula, and with the wit and agility of its sharp social commentary. If it was hard enough to pull off the first time, it also set the bar almightily high for Benoit Blanc’s second case.
Take it from the man himself. “How the fuck do we take something that caught people’s imagination and made them talk about murder mysteries, and do it again without it becoming a pastiche of itself?” asks Daniel Craig in Empire’s world-exclusive Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery cover story. Thankfully, in his other recently-departed job, Craig had had plenty experience of meeting, defying, and retooling the audience’s expectations – MI6 had trained him well enough to do it again. “I’ve spent the past 15 years of my life trying to do that in a franchise, so I’m not afraid of it,” he says. “If you’ve got the right people in the room and the right talent, then you can do it. Rian’s a genius writer and doesn’t want to repeat [himself]. Neither do we want to let people down; we want audiences to enjoy the world that we created in the first one and believe in this one.”
For Johnson, who returns as writer-director, Glass Onion represented a chance to place Benoit Blanc at the centre of the movie – the doughnut hole, if you will – after having him on the periphery of the Marta-centric plot in Knives Out. And audiences will get a little more insight into the man himself this time – if not through rote exposition. “There’s definitely more Blanc, but it’s not very interesting to me, the notion of building out Benoit’s life,” Johnson explains. “Like with Poirot and Miss Marple, what’s fun is how the elements of Benoit’s character reveal themselves through his act of solving each one of these mysteries.”
For Craig, the real challenge was slipping back into Blanc’s Kentucky-fried tones – a surprise and a delight in the first film, but one that could easily tip over into caricature if not carefully calibrated. “I went away to work with an accent coach for three or four months before we started shooting [Glass Onion],” Craig reveals. “I’d forgotten the accent and I didn’t want to do a pastiche. I wanted to make it as grounded and as anchored in reality as possible.” Benoit Blanc is back and ready to breathe new life into the murder-mystery genre once more – Glass Onion looks set to be another smash.
Read Empire’s full world-exclusive Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery cover feature in the October 2022 issue, packed with never-before-seen images and speaking to Johnson, Craig, and the ensemble cast – including Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Kate Hudson, Lesle Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe – to get the inside scoop on Benoit Blanc’s latest case. Find it on newsstands from Thursday 1 September, or pre-order a copy online here. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery streams on Netflix from 23 December.