Which character has an unrequited crush? And more Glass Onion secrets.
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A great mystery story has lots of secrets — so it's a good thing that the cast and creator of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery has them in spades.

When we gather most of the cast and writer-director Rian Johnson for an EW Around the Table, we try to get them to spill on some of those (though alas, they are, in general, well-trained to be tight-lipped).

The movie, a follow-up to the 2019 hit Knives Out, follows a group of old friends with lingering resentments as they travel to the private island of tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) for a weekend of whodunnit fun and games that turns deadly.

If at least some of the plot description sounds ripped from recent headlines, that's by design. Johnson has long cited the work of Agatha Christie as inspiration for the burgeoning franchise, and that includes keying into her oft-dismissed relevancy.

"So much of our perception of her is that it's period pieces and it's through this hazy, gauzy nostalgia of the past," Johnson says. "But she was writing to exactly her time and place. So, when we have characters who are influencers, who are Instagram models, who are beleaguered assistants, who are rockstar scientists, who are fashionistas, who are politicians pissing everybody off on both sides of the aisle, who are tech billionaires — all of these are the people that Agatha Christie would be writing about right now."

All of the cast opened up to EW about the inspirations for their characters — from Los Angeles influencers to a motley crew of tech executives and the inventor of the SuperSoaker. But for Kate Hudson, who plays model Birdie Jay, everything we need to know about the characters can be gleaned from their first group introduction — on a Mediterranean dock waiting to board a yacht.

"The great reference in this is how we all wear masks," Hudson says, referring to the film's acknowledgement of the COVID-19 pandemic in its storytelling (but maybe also getting a little meta). "You got Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), [the scientist] showing up double-masked. I'm showing up with, like, a lace or mesh mask. Claire (Kathryn Hahn) is showing up with it hanging down like a chin strap. Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has a very chic and tight mask."

It's probably no secret who the myriad of inspirations for billionaire private-island-owner Bron could be, though Johnson insists variety was key. "If I thought about anybody to base this on specifically, it got very boring very quickly," says Johnson. "It had to be an amalgam, it had to be more about the character and relationship to the power structure."

GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY
Credit: Kanya Iwana for EW

More surpisingly, Norton likens his take on Miles and his process to that of Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. "To be able to take the best of the worst qualities from so many of these people and put them all into one guy was the fun in it," he explains. "Sometimes when you look at certain characters that we love, a lot of times what someone's doing is taking something that actually is a little bit too heightened and pulling it down into being believable. If you really look at what Tennessee Williams is writing with Stanley Kowalski, on paper, it's almost too much masculinity. But somehow it ends up representing something great. Miles is the Kowalski of tech douchebags."

Odom teases that he held back so many secrets, giving him real moral questions to contend with. "Lionel's hiding everything he feels about Miles," he reflects. "All that was buried — the guilt that we have. These people have been pushed out of line of their integrity by Miles. We had a lot of fun. But there were real-world stakes."

But Hahn, who plays politician Claire Debella, is all too ready to share her secret. "Claire always had a thing for Lionel," she confesses, noting that she played her character with a sense of repressed longing for Odom's scientist. "Always. He's the one that got away. I feel like I had come on to him back in the day and I was politely rejected and held onto that."

Even with that on the table, Glass Onion holds many more surprises to uncover — and you can, starting today, with a special one-week theatrical engagement before the whodunnit hits Netflix next month on Dec. 23.

Watch the video above for more.

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