Daniel Craig’s ‘most gratifying moment’ was watching ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ with Toronto audiences at TIFF


When « Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery » had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, no one was happier than Bond himself. Watching the film with Toronto audiences was the « most gratifying moment » for Daniel Craig, who reprises his role as Detective Benoit Blanc in the « Knives Out » sequel.

The entire star-studded cast was at the TIFF premiere to introduce audiences to the crowd-pleasing film, where it received a standing ovation. The murderous mystery drama, which aired Friday on Netflix, was the second runner-up for the TIFF People’s Choice Award, often a strong indicator of potential Oscar nominations.

“When we got it in front of that audience and people started laughing…it’s just success. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best feeling,” Craig said in an interview. It was the first time the film was seen by moviegoers.

Directed by Rian Johnson, the thriller is nothing short of a riot, with an ensemble that allows all of its actors to shine. The film follows famed sleuth White, who travels to Greece to uncover the layers of mystery surrounding tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) and his eclectic team of friends.

It also stars Janelle Monáe, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Dave Bautista, Madelyn Cline and Jessica Henwick.

Johnson himself loves TIFF and was happy to be back; his connection to the festival goes back a long way – besides the two films ‘Knives Out’, his films ‘The Brothers Bloom’ and ‘Looper’ also had their world premieres at the festival in 2008 and 2012.

« It’s an amazing festival, there’s an amazing energy in the theaters and people are showing up to have a great time, » Johnson said. “I think with a movie like this, it’s about people going through it in a big group and laughing together. It’s just gold and I love the Toronto International Film Festival. You really get the feeling that it’s not like a destination film festival that only moviegoers go to. It is a festival that lives and breathes in the city. You can feel it in the crowd as people who just want to go see a good movie.

Johnson, who not only directed the film but also wrote the screenplay, has the ability to write quirky, flawed, and ridiculously entertaining characters that thrive on screen.

« I think it’s especially important when you’re building a rogue gallery of terrible people as suspects, that with each one of them you find something in them that you can relate to, » he said. “I think it gives you a kind of generosity of spirit towards them so that you understand them.

« I think if it’s just about judging terrible people, it will get very boring very quickly. »

In Craig, Johnson has found a collaborator who brings his material to life in unexpected ways. The actor is going for bolder moves this time around, including one particularly pivotal moment that earned a huge round of applause and cheers from the audience. « He channels Jacques Tati, » Johnson joked, referring to the French comedic actor.

“I think bringing what’s written to life is a huge performance on his part and we talk about it on set and it’s a really good spirit of collaboration. I mean honestly, that’s why we’re sitting here right now because Daniel and I are clicking. We love working with each other and that’s why we’ll do a third if they keep letting us do it.

Craig, who recently earned a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination for the film, echoed the sentiments, noting that it was Johnson’s good script that allowed him to dig his claws deeper into White to find what made it vibrate – without distracting the attention of the other characters.

« He wrote another fun script, which allowed me to explore Benoit a bit more and maybe show a bit more about him. I kinda liked that he was an enigma it’s a bit of a mystery and it’s good that it remains so. Because it’s about everyone in the cast, the suspects. That’s who we’re interested in.

Craig, 54, seems happy to be working on a film that really interests him again. His 15-year tenure as James Bond ended in 2021 with ‘No Time to Die’, his fifth and final portrayal of the fictional British MI6 agent.

“I manage to work with this amount of talent, that’s all. If I play opposite these brilliant and wonderful actors, my job is cut in half. I just have to let them do their thing,” he said.

« Really, to have the opportunities that I have right now in my career and to be able to kind of take advantage of them. I’ve had some incredible times over the last 18 years of my life doing Bond and the experiences that I lived doing it is just amazing. To have a chance to make another movie if we manage to make another one…I mean how lucky am I?

Packaged sets rarely allow every actor to deliver, but this one, like its predecessor, does. Monáe is one of those actors who gives a layered performance, bringing a mysterious enigma and energy to this set. She’s already garnered award nominations with a nod to the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress. For her, working with someone like Johnson on a film like this was fulfilling; she called him « the ultimate collaborator ».

« When he sent me the script, I knew he would go to new places, and having the opportunity as an actor to show the range and perform is just a dream of mine. To give you the comedy, the drama, giving you the mystery, giving you all the layers you have to peel off in this character was so much fun,” she said.

"Glass Onion" director Rian Johnson says it's important that audiences find something to relate to in the "terrible people rogues gallery" in the movie. "I think if it's just about judging terrible people, it will get very boring very quickly."

For Norton, signing up for this project was an easy decision. He’s known Johnson for nearly 20 years and shared that they had a « real affinity for certain types of movies together. I love him as a person. He is an easy-going, thoughtful and passionate person. All you had to do was say, “I’ve always wanted to do something with Rian. Let’s do it.' »

The film functions as a scathing critique, a satire aimed at the culture-disrupting tech moguls in today’s society. Norton, who hilariously inhabits the eccentricities of a tech billionaire, found this very appealing.

« The particularly tasty opportunity was that he puts a satirical fork in some things that I think are very ripe right now. I like how it’s good humored, and with a lot of narrative hijinks and especially entertainment, but it still struggles with these dynamics of appropriation and technological arrogance,” Norton said.

After the success of the first « Knives Out, » which was nominated for the Best Original Oscar of 2020, it seems Johnson has found the key to making an entertaining whodunit. The filmmaker, 49, thinks the formula is simple, focusing more on the journey than the puzzle.

“What I try to do is never forget that it’s a movie. I want it to be a roller coaster ride, not a crossword puzzle,” he said.

“I want people to lean forward, not lean back and try to figure it out. So that means the same thing that makes any movie work. It means having a protagonist you care about and how are they going to make it, instead of just thinking about solving a thriller.

It looks like his formula is working. The film has already earned several nominations, including Best Picture at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.

« Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery » premieres on Netflix on Friday.

Marriska Fernandes is a Toronto-based entertainment journalist and film critic. She is a freelance contributor to the Star’s Culture section. Follow her on Twitter: @marrs_fers


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