Glass Onion writer-director Rian Johnson has opened up about how he came to name the Knives Out sequel after a Beatles song.
During an interview with Deadline, Johnson confessed that he hadn’t come up with a title for the sequel to his hit 2019 mystery film until after he had already begun writing the script. “I didn’t have anything in mind, which was terrifying, because the first movie I’d had cooking for about 10 years,” he said.
“I’d gotten to a point where I had the idea of a central metaphor that [Benoit] Blanc could latch onto and beat like a dead horse,” Johnson continued. “Something that was made of glass. Something that was layered, but the center was in plain sight, and so on. And I thought, OK, well the billionaire is going to have an island, and maybe he has some structure on it that’s made of glass, so… is it a glass castle? Is it a glass palace? I literally opened the music app on my phone and just searched the word ‘glass,’ and ‘Glass Onion’ popped up.”
Johnson quickly realized that Glass Onion was the perfect title for the sequel to Knives Out. What surprised him, however, is the fact that the reference ended up going over everyone’s head. “But I was always surprised, when I was showing the script around, how many people didn’t know it was a Beatles song,” he recalled. “I thought everybody knew ‘Glass Onion,’ but I guess they don’t.”
Looking Through the Glass Onion
Written by John Lennon and credited to both Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Glass Onion” was released on the Beatles’ eponymous 1968 double album, colloquially referred to as the “White Album.” Lennon wrote the song to deliberately confuse those who attempted to analyze the Beatles’ lyrics, making it similar in nature to tracks like “I Am the Walrus,” which was itself released on the Beatles’ 1967 EP Magical Mystery Tour.
To that end, “Glass Onion” references numerous other Beatles songs, including the aforementioned “I Am the Walrus,” as well as “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Lady Madonna,” “The Fool on the Hill” and “Fixing a Hole.” Speaking on “Glass Onion” sometime after its release, Lennon said, “I threw the line in — ‘the Walrus was Paul’ — just to confuse everybody a bit more. It could have been ‘the fox terrier is Paul,’ I mean, it’s just a bit of poetry. I was having a laugh because there’d been so much gobbledygook about [Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band] — play it backwards and you stand on your head and all that.”
Knives Out’s Benoit Blanc Is Back on the Case in Glass Onion
A Netflix original film, Glass Onion premiered in theaters for a limited, week-long release on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The Knives Out sequel is scheduled to debut on Netflix itself on Friday, Dec. 23. The new film rejoins detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who travels to Glass Onion, the private Greek island of tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). As Deadline notes, the Beatles song’s line about seeing “how the other half live” seems especially apt, given Miles’ highly materialistic nature.
In Glass Onion, Miles invites Benoit — as well as many of his own friends — for a “murder mystery party” on his island. But when a real-life murder takes place, Benoit must once again figure out who is responsible. In addition to Craig and Norton, the film’s ensemble cast includes Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is currently playing in theaters for a limited time. The film premieres on Netflix on Dec. 23.