10 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About “Knives Out” (2019): Whodunits have been a source of intrigue among cinema viewers for a long time. “The Mystery of Rue Morgue” (1914), one of the earliest mystery films of Hollywood based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story featuring C. Auguste Dupin, was also a film that explored this genre. And over the years, numerous films have been made in this genre of mystery films, but none has been as buzzworthy and talked about as 2019’s “Knives Out.” Directed by the visionary Rian Johnson, this modern-day whodunit revitalizes the classic murder-mystery genre, skillfully infusing it with an ingenious blend of suspense, wit, and unexpected twists.
Drawing upon a star-studded ensemble cast that includes renowned actors like Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and Jamie Lee Curtis, “Knives Out” delivers an electrifying cinematic experience that has enthralled both critics and audiences alike. It blended homage to Agatha Christie’s literary shenanigans with Johnson’s inventive storytelling. Moreover, people got a new onscreen detective, Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig.
With its intricate storytelling, “Knives Out” emerged as a modern classic that celebrated and reinvented the traditional conventions of detective tales. Let’s look at some behind the scene facts about this mystery film that got a sequel, with another one in development.
1. Inspiration from Agatha Christie:
Director Rian Johnson drew significant inspiration from the works of Agatha Christie, especially her classic mystery novel “Murder on the Orient Express.” Johnson’s love for the whodunit genre is evident throughout “Knives Out,” paying homage to the Golden Age of detective fiction. The film involves a murder mystery that involves a gathering of people, which was one of the significant trademarks in Christie’s detective novels.
2. One of Rian Johnson’s frequent collaborators made a secret cameo:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who previously appeared in Rian Johnson’s “The Interview,” “Brick,” “The Brothers Bloom” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” also appears in “Knives Out.” He had been in touch with Johnson since they worked together in “Brick” and instantly connected on set. His cameo was a secret and is audio only. Gordon-Levitt is the voice on the program that Ana De Aramas’ character’s sister watches in the kitchen. The actor says, “We have the nanny cam footage.”
3. Harlan Thrombey’s portrait was a green screen:
When production started on the film, the painting of Christopher Plummer’s character Harlan Thrombey was not ready yet. The portrait was digitally added since they couldn’t get the original portrait by the time filming started. Director Rian Johnson said, “Every single shot you see in the movie with the painting in it was a green screen. We just had green inside the frame. We had some amazing effects guy who — we took a high-quality photo of the painting, and they comped it in every shot.” And since it was a green screen, they had a little fun with it while they were at it. At the beginning of the film, Thrombey appears straight-faced in the painting. Once the mystery of his murder is solved, his expression subtly changes, revealing a slight smirk. Thrombey is pleased, eh?
4. Rian Johnson altered the dialogues to get a PG-13 rating:
The initial dialogues of the film had some F-words in them, which might have subjected the film to receive an R-Rating from the MPPA. In one scene, Hugh “Ransom” Drysdale (played by Chris Evans) tells his family members to “eat shit,” a line that Johnson amended to avoid an R rating.
“When I wrote it, it was ‘Fuck you.’ Johnson says, ‘Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck YOU…’ I decided right before we started shooting, I was like, ‘You know what? I really want this movie to be PG-13,’” Johnson explained on a podcast. He continued, “Because I was thinking about growing up as a kid and watching those Peter Ustinov Poirot movies with my family and thinking that was the age when I got into this stuff. I thought, ‘You know what? Let’s make this change.’ I pulled a lot of f-bombs. There were a lot more f-bombs in this script!”
5. An actual email address is used in the film:
In the movie, the email address belonging to Marta Cabrera (played by Ana de Armas) becomes a plot point when she becomes victim to a few disturbing messages. The email address does exist in real life and later became a dumping ground for the movie fans to show their appreciation for the film and Armas’ character. Over 200 emails flooded the inbox with love and appreciation from fans, and Rian Johnson was pleased that people noticed even small details in the movie.
6. The use of iPhones in the film gives away a significant plot point:
Apple, the maker of iPhones, allows any film to use its products, but there’s one big catch. If one looks closely at everyone’s phones, which is a modern tactic to decipher any modern murder mystery, it doesn’t take much time to figure out the real culprit. Rian Johnson spilled the beans to Vanity Fair that Apple allows them to use their products as long as the antagonist does not use them. Apple keeping its brand value sacred, maybe?
7. Chris Evans ate way too many cookies while filming a scene:
Chris Evans’ character Ransom Drysdale was introduced in the film eating Belgium cookies with milk, representing his bratty personality. But Rian Johnson revealed that he regretted that decision as the scene took so many takes, and Evans ended that day of shooting feeling like his throat was “coated in butter.”
8. Harlan’s house was shot in different locations:
The Thrombey Mansion, which had a gothic vibe, was shot in three locations. The interior was shot in the Ames Mansion, a twelve-hundred-acre estate that belonged to Blanche Ames Ames, an artist, inventor, and women’s rights activist, while the exterior was shot at a mansion outside Boston. The third location used to create the estate was a soundstage, which was used for Harlan’s office. “The funny thing is that the way the office hallway and the upper floor we built on set was designed wouldn’t have fit in the actual house you see in the film. But it was made for these scenes where people are sneaking around trying not to get seen, and I’m really proud of how it ended up looking in the final cut”, production designer David Crank told Variety. As per Crank, they had to build the office set in three weeks and worked quickly to get it done.
9. Katherine Callan is younger than her on-screen son, Christopher Plummer:
Katherine Callan, better known as K Callan, played Christopher Plummer’s character’s mother, Wanetta Thrombey, but in real life, Plummer was six years older than Callan. At the time of filming, Plummer was 90 years old, while Callan was 84 years old.
10. One of the actors was a later addition to the cast:
M. Emmett Walsh, who played the security guard on the grounds of the Thrombey Mansion, was a late addition to the cast. The part was initially written for Ricky Jay, but the magician and renowned stage actor died during the start of production, and Rian Johnson and the film crew added a small tribute to him by adding his photograph on a fridge during one scene.