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Knives Out

Release date: November 27, 2019
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Written by: Rian Johnson
Produced by: Rian Johnson, Ram Bergman
Running time: 131 minutes

The inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is enlisted by an anonymous client to investigate if renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has killed himself or if he was murdered at his estate on the night of his 85th birthday party. All of Harlan's dysfunctional family members were present at his party and all of them have a motive to have killed the patriach, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan's untimely death.

Cast & Characters

Daniel Craig (Benoit Blanc), Chris Evans (Ransom Drysdale), Ana de Armas (Marta Cabrera), Jamie Lee Curtis (Linda Drysdale), Michael Shannon (Walt Thrombey), Don Johnson (Richard Drysdale), Toni Collette (Joni Thrombey), LaKeith Stanfield (Lieutenant Elliott), Christopher Plummer (Harlan Thrombey), Katherine Langford (Meg Thrombey), Jaeden Martell (Jacob Thrombey), Riki Lindhome (Donna Thrombey), Edi Patterson (Fran), Frank Oz (Alan Stevens), K Callan (Greatnana Wanetta), Noah Segan (Trooper Wagner), M. Emmet Walsh (Mr. Proofroc), Marlene Forte (Marta’s Mom), Raúl Castillo (Cop), Shyrley Rodriguez (Alicia), Kerry Frances (Sally), Gary Tanguay (Local News Anchor), Octavia Chavez-Richmond (Other Woman), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Voice of Detective Hardrock)

Production Notes

Director Rian Johnson had been wanting to write a murder mystery for most of his career. “I had been an Agatha Christie fan since I was a kid,” he says. “It’s like comfort food for me.” He first came up with the basic concept for Knives Out a decade ago after breaking out with 2005’s Brick, but it wasn’t until he found himself with a window of time in early 2018 – after the release of Last Jedi and before starting production on the Star Wars trilogy he was hired to helm — that he finally put pen to paper. But Johnson didn’t want to make a conventional murder mystery, so he added his own little twist, turning “Knives Out” into a commentary on wealth and privilege in Trump’s America all while winking at the audience about the tropes of a typical whodunit. “The goal was to take the weight off of the notion of there being a big surprise at the end, to give the audience the freedom to just relax and have a ride. I want it to be a roller coaster,” he says.

Daniel Craig had been on Johnson’s wish list for Benoit Blanc, and he jumped to the chance when news leaked that filming on the new Bond was being delayed after the departure of its director. Craig gladly accepted. They began to build the cast around Craig. “If you’re shooting sometime next year, everybody in the back of their head is thinking about keeping their options open in case a big Marvel movie or something comes up,” Johnson says. “But in this case, saying, ‘Can you show up in four weeks in Massachusetts and just have fun with us doing this murder mystery?’ I think that helped make it more appealing.” They assembled a high quality class with the likes of Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson and Christopher Plummer. The biggest challenge was finding the right actor for the role of caretaker Marta, who serves as the audience’s window into the events surrounding Harlan’s death. Casting director Mary Vernieu suggested de Armas, who had recently appeared in Blade Runner 2049, and she won Johnson over during their first meeting. “Some actors have that magical quality where you feel like their eyes are just windows right into their souls, and that’s what Ana’s got,” he says. After “Knives Out” wrapped, de Armas was cast in the new Bond, No Time to Die, which reunited her with Craig.

“Knives Out” had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 27, 2019, by Lionsgate. The film received critical acclaim, particularly for its screenplay, direction, humor, plot, entertainment value, and acting, and grossed over $300 million worldwide against a $40 million budget. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the film received three nominations in the Musical or Comedy category: Best Motion Picture, Best Actor for Craig, and Best Actress for de Armas. It also received Best Original Screenplay nominations at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards and 92nd Academy Awards. It was further selected by the American Film Institute, the National Board of Review, and Time magazine as one of the top ten films of 2019.