10 things we learned from Rian Johnson’s 'Glass Onion’ director’s commentary

10 things we learned from Rian Johnson’s 'Glass Onion’ director’s commentary

A man sits at a desk in a glass dome shaped like onion.

Can't get enough of Benoit Blanc and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery? Then you're in luck, because Netflix has released a director's commentary track for the film, where Rian Johnson dishes on how the film was made.

One important note: Netflix doesn't release commentary tracks on their platform. Instead, they release them as a podcast. To listen to Johnson's commentary, go to wherever you listen to podcasts and find Netflix's Watching With... episode about Glass Onion. The podcast will tell you when to press play on the movie itself.

Johnson's commentary is a great look into the secrets of Glass Onion, from dissections of the movie's craftsmanship to smaller details you may have missed on first viewing. Here are 10 fascinating things we learned from the Glass Onion commentary track — although trust us, there's way more where this came from. (And just in case you're reading this before watching the film for some reason, consider yourself spoiler-warned.)

1. Rian Johnson has an unexpected cameo in Glass Onion.

The sun sets over a resort on a private island.
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Glass Onion is full of all-star cameos, including ones from longtime Johnson collaborators Noah Segan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But perhaps the most surprising cameo is a brief appearance from Johnson himself — specifically, from his hand. When Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) decides to use Jeremy Renner's hot sauce to make it look like Helen (Janelle Monáe) has been shot, we get a close up of his hand holding the bottle. Except it isn't Craig's hand, it's Johnson's!

"We did a little reshoot because I wanted a very specific reveal of 'Renning Hot,'" Johnson explained. "So apologies, Daniel, that's me."

SEE ALSO: All those 'Glass Onion' cameos, ranked

2. What were some of Glass Onion's deleted scenes?

Kate Hudson, a blonde white woman, in a shimmery green and yellow dress holding a large cocktail.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Curious about Glass Onion scenes that didn't make the final cut? Johnson's got you covered. Throughout the commentary, he mentions a variety of deleted scenes, such as Birdie (Kate Hudson) reading to children in a library in such an inappropriate manner that she gets even more canceled. There was also a sequence in which Birdie and Peg (Jessica Henwick) almost run into Benoit and Helen before arriving on the island, in which case their plot to catch Andi's killer would have been foiled.

Johnson revealed that he almost cut the brief scene in which Jeremy Renner's hot sauce, standing in for blood, almost drips into Helen's nose while she's playing dead. However, when he saw audience's reactions to the suspenseful moment in preview screenings, he admitted that he was glad he'd kept it in.

3. Helen originally had kids in Glass Onion.

Janelle Monae, a young Black woman, in a black and white dress.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Initially, the section of Glass Onion we experience from Helen's point of view featured a subplot that centered on Helen's children. "There was kind of a runner [where] she would be investigating and having to juggle these calls from her kids," said Johnson. One of the calls would have dealt with an emergency in which Helen's daughter freaked out that her poop had turned blue because she'd eaten too many blueberry Pop Tarts.

"We had that in there because [we were] trying to add another element in there of the audience liking Helen," said Johnson. "We realized they were on Helen's side, we didn't need it, so we took it out for pacing purposes. And I think it worked better without it."

4. Johnson offers a deep dive into Glass Onion's whodunnit influences.

Daniel Craig, a white man in a pink linen shirt and sunglasses, stands on a dock by the ocean.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Glass Onion pays tribute to whodunnits like the original Death on the Nile and The Last of Sheila — for example, Angela Lansbury, star of the former, and Stephen Sondheim, co-writer of the latter, both have cameos in the film. In his commentary, Johnson also points out how Death on the Nile's score served as a starting point for composer Nathan Johnson, and how Andi's role as a "fly in the ointment" of a vacation in the first half of the movie parallels Jacqueline De Bellefort's (Mia Farrow) part in Death on the Nile.

Even the hourly "dong" (voiced by Gordon-Levitt) has its roots in whodunnits — specifically, the "noonday gun" in Evil Under the Sun.

SEE ALSO: Did 'Glass Onion' leave a clue about 'Knives Out 3'?

5. Miles Bron has a murder tracksuit.

A man with his back to a glass wall.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

When Miles Bron (Edward Norton) learns that Andi has evidence that could destroy, he's wearing a blue tracksuit. When he drives to her house to kill her, he's wearing a black tracksuit. Ergo, he changed into a special tracksuit for the occasion — a "murder tracksuit," as Johnson called it. Sure, this is a small detail, but it makes a hilarious amount of sense. Of course Miles would change into a stealthy black tracksuit to commit a crime.

6. "Eat the rich" is not the main point of Knives Out or Glass Onion.

A group of well-dressed men and women in an art-filled living room.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

While both Benoit Blanc mysteries so far have dealt with satirizing extremely wealthy, out of touch suspects — the Thrombeys in Knives Out and the disruptors in Glass Onion — Johnson pushed back against the notion that these films are solely about taking down the rich.

"To me, it's not very interesting, the notion that rich people are jerks," he said during a scene that sees Miles's friends back him up even though they know he is a murderer. "To me, the interesting thing about this is what we see playing out here: the notion of the power structure — not globally, in terms of the rich up top, although that's certainly there, but I'm talking about within groups of people. In the first movie, it was a family, in this movie, a group of friends. The notion that there's this unhealthy power structure that's in place, and what people who may even have good intentions will do in order to protect that structure if they're benefiting from it, and what it takes to break that structure — that, to me, is actually so much more interesting than the notion of just something as simple as 'Eat the rich.'"

SEE ALSO: How eat-the-rich comedies changed during COVID

7. Every clue in Glass Onion is hidden in plain sight.

Two men enter a glass dome shaped like an onion.
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Something Johnson stressed throughout the director's commentary is that Glass Onion "plays fair." Everything related to the mystery, we watch happen. We can see Miles holding Duke's (Dave Bautista) gun and switching his glass. Later, we can see him take Duke's phone. There are so many other tiny moments like this that you can only catch on rewatch, or with Johnson pointing them out. The director's commentary also allows Johnson to explain some of the smaller red herrings, and how the film distracts the audience enough to the point that they don't notice these crucial details.

8. Glass Onion is full of treats for musical theater fans.

Leslie Odom Jr, a Black man in a green suit, stands in a living room holding a glass of whiskey, while a woman in a beige dress slumps on a red couch behind him.
Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Not only does Glass Onion feature a cameo from the late musical mastermind Stephen Sondheim, it also contains several references to his musical Merrily We Roll Along, which Johnson described as being "about a group of friends [that] rots." Sound like any group of disruptive friends we might know of?

Johnson — a noted musical theater fan — listened to Merrily We Roll Along while writing Glass Onion. Some lyrics found their way into dialogue, like when Claire (Kathryn Hahn) brutally tells Helen life isn't fair. "Now you know!" she spits, a reference to Merrily We Roll Along's song of the same name. Plus, if you look behind Philip (Hugh Grant) when he opens the door to his and Benoit's apartment, you can catch the poster to Merrily We Roll Along in the background.

9. Glass Onion stars a SpaceX employee.

A group of people stand on a beach, with one man in front putting his hands on his hips.
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Tech bro Miles Bron has been compared repeatedly to Elon Musk, a connection Johnson has called an accident. However, if you want another Musk-Bron connection, look no further than the film's opening montage. When we meet scientist Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.), he is on a video call with other members of Miles's company Alpha — a company that could be likened to Musk ventures like Tesla or SpaceX. Johnson revealed that the Alpha employees on the call were played by his friends... including one who works for SpaceX. Looks like Miles isn't shaking the Elon comparisons any time soon.

10. The glass sculptures in Miles Bron's house are Beatles Easter eggs.

Courtesy of Netflix
Credit: A man hides in a collection of glass sculptures on pedestals.

Between being named after a Beatles song to having Miles play "Blackbird" on guitar, Glass Onion is quite a Beatles-centric movie. That Beatles motif extends to Miles's art collection, and specifically the many glass sculptures he has on pedestals throughout his main room. Johnson points out how several of these pieces tie to the Beatles: We can see a walrus from Magical Mystery Tour and a cluster of strawberries for "Strawberry Fields Forever." Even the button controlling the Mona Lisa's security system — shaped like a jester on a small hill — is a reference to "The Fool on the Hill." The devil is truly in the details.

For more Glass Onion facts, listen to Johnson's commentary track wherever you get your podcasts.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.