Rian Johnson’s massive cast from the beloved TIFF movie “Knives Out” gathered together to spill the details on which whodunnit star murdered Christopher Plummer’s character at Variety’s Toronto International Film Festival presented by AT&T.
Chris Evans Says Rian Johnson’s ‘Knives Out’ “Felt Right From The Jump” – Toronto Studio
By Joe Utichi
September 10, 2019
A veritable army of cast joined writer/director Rian Johnson in Deadline’s TIFF studio this week in support of the uproarious Knives Out, which got its world premiere at the festival. A modern twist on the classic whodunit, the film stars Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and more. And while the cast were understandably tight-lipped on the identity of the murderer of Plummer’s character, they each embraced the mystery at the core of the ensemble.
“It was all in the writing,” Collette said. “In reading it, it just kept opening up and changing, and it was so swift, and so smooth, and so surprising. It’s all in the script.”
Said Evans: “Film is really a collaboration of a lot of really creative people. You’re all trying to make the same dish, and you don’t always have the right ingredients, and it doesn’t always taste good. This movie, it just felt right from the jump, from the second we all got together.”
It’s Johnson’s first movie since Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and it emerged from his love of classic authors like Agatha Christie, he said. “The best authors, like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers and the people that did it really well, make the plotting look kind of effortless,” Johnson noted. “And that’s kind of the tricky thing, especially when you have folks like this in front of the camera—to make all the machinations of the plot seem like they’re well-oiled and moving smoothly, so you’re really drawn through the characters.”
For more from the cast and director of Knives Out, watch our video above.
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TORONTO—“Who’s ready for an old-school whodunit?” That was Rian Johnson’s question as the director took the stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre this past weekend to introduce his new thriller, Knives Out, one of the centerpiece premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival. Johnson had spent the past few years of his career on the blockbuster treadmill, making Star Wars: The Last Jedi and then enduring waves of hype, online trolling, praise, and backlash for the inimitable sequel. Johnson’s exhortation about Knives Out had a note of relief to it; no longer tangled up in franchise concerns, the filmmaker had created a classic mystery, the likes of which Hollywood used to produce with aplomb.
Knives Out, a clear highlight of the festival so far, turns out to be anything but simple. It’s a dazzlingly confident and self-aware parlor game of a film, one that gleefully undermines its own murder-mystery premise and takes a worn subgenre in strange new directions. I suspect Johnson was using old-school rather wryly. Like so many of the biggest hits at TIFF this year, Knives Out is being positioned by its studio, Lionsgate, as the kind of inviting throwback the industry has been starved of in 2019: films that are devoid of CGI, unconcerned with shared universes, and stacked with movie stars such as Daniel Craig and Chris Evans. But Johnson’s movie doesn’t rely only on the nostalgia factor, instead standing out by finding a fresh way to tell a familiar story. More Stories
I won’t give away too many details about Knives Out, which will hit theaters this Thanksgiving; the joy of seeing it lies in witnessing the creative ways Johnson sets up his plot dominoes and knocks them down. It also manages to be both fun and trenchant, telling a caustic and modern story of haves and have-nots in the style of a Poirot novel. That same, sometimes weary touch of modernity reverberated through many of the films I’ve seen thus far (the festival, which essentially kicks off the industry’s awards season, started on September 5 and runs through September 15).
All-star murder mystery Knives Out is a bloody clever good time By Leah Greenblatt September 10, 2019 at 01:51 PM EDT
Movies with sprawling, starry casts nearly always seem like a treat for the actors in them; a sort of celebrity summer camp, with paychecks. That giddiness doesn’t necessarily translate, though, to the common people on the other side of the screen. God bless director Rian Johnson then for bringing so much equal-opportunity fun to Knives Out, a silly, stabby, supremely clever whodunnit that only really suffers from having too little room for each of its talented players to fully register in the film’s limited run time.
Those actors include (deep breath): Christopher Plummer as wildly successful murder-mystery writer and family patriarch Harlan Thrombey, whose untimely demise on the night of his 85th birthday party triggers everything that follows; his tightly-wound eldest daughter and son-in-law, Linda and Richard (Jamie Lee Curtis and Don Johnson), and their wayward offspring, Ransom (Chris Evans); brooding middle son Walt (Michael Shannon), who helps run the family publishing business; dippy lifestyle guru Joni (Toni Collette) and her vaping co-ed daughter, Meg (13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford); Harlan’s faithful nurse-companion Marta (Ana de Armas).
There’s also Sorry to Bother You’s Lakeith Stanfield as a low-key police detective, and Daniel Craig as the fancy private P.I. brought in under special, anonymous circumstances to audit the investigation. He sounds like Foghorn Leghorn on Quaaludes when he talks, but he sees things others don’t. And he quickly zeroes in Marta as his key to the case, in part because she cannot tell a lie — literally: Untruths make her projectile vomit.
The script, also by Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the upcoming Untitled Star Wars Trilogy: Episode I) lovingly teases the tropes of classic murder mysteries, while simultaneously blowing the dust off them with timely jokes about Game of Thrones, Hamilton, and dark-web incels.
Inevitably, some cast members rise to the top: Colette’s fluttering, moon-juiced Jodi deserves her own Goop-sponsored sequel, or at least a half-hour pilot on Bravo. Evans is perfectly smarmy as the swaggering trust-fund kid who floats above it all, and Craig honestly seems to be having more fun with his Colonel Sanders gentleman than he has in the last four Bond films combined.
It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that lot actually hinges on the lovely, wide-eyed de Armas (Blade Runner 2049), who maintains a sweetly implacable presence, even as the script gleefully digs into a running gag about her family origins (she’s from Uruguay! No, Paraguay! Guatemala! Brazil?) at the oblivious Thrombeys’ expense.
The exact who of the dunnit, when it finally comes, is unabashedly corny but satisfying, too; a callback to all the classic wrap-ups of the genre, with a pitch-perfect, thoroughly modern final shot on par with that of one of the other great black comedies of this year, Ready or Not. But to reveal any more than that, of course, would be a crime. B+
(Knives Out premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be released in theaters Nov. 27)
"The movie came to life every time you were on the screen." Stan Lee to Chris Evans.