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'Knives Out' sequel stars laud Angela Lansbury at Europe premiere

Oct. 17, 2022 - 15:06 By AFP
Daniel Craig lauded the late Angela Lansbury: 'My favourite film was 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' (ISABEL INFANTES AFP)

LONDON -- Daniel Craig and co-stars of "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" lauded Angela Lansbury on Sunday as the whodunit sequel in which the late actress makes a cameo closed the London Film Festival.

Craig said 96-year-old Lansbury -- who died Tuesday, after becoming a household name through playing a writer-detective in "Murder, She Wrote" -- had been "in my life all my life."

"I mean, my favorite film was 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'," said the James Bond franchise legend, referring to the 1971 Disney hit film that Lansbury had starred in.

"The fact that she's in our movie, we're so blessed -- and also what an incredible life she had," Craig, 54, told reporters at a press conference alongside other "Glass Onion" filmmakers ahead of its European premiere.

Director Rian Johnson said Lansbury's appearance in his follow-up to 2019 murder mystery "Knives Out," alongside one by the late Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim who died last November, followed brief filming visits he made to their homes.

"Besides just the honor of having them in the movie... just being able to have 10 minutes with each of them, to tell them what their work has meant to me was really, really special," he added.

- 'Subverting the genre' -

"Glass Onion," which features a star-studded ensemble cast that also includes Edward Norton, Kate Hudson and Janelle Monae, will hit cinemas for just a week next month before streaming on Netflix from late December.

Following the success of the first film -- which netted more than $300 million at the global box office, despite a budget of just $40 million -- Craig will also return as Southern gentleman sleuth Benoit Blanc for a third time.

Johnson -- who previously directed the divisive blockbuster "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" -- reiterated that his budding new franchise stems from his love for prolific British crime writer Agatha Christie.

He said his contemporary take on the whodunit, which in this installment include Norton as a vainglorious tech billionaire and Hudson as a vacuous fashionista, tries to emulate her "subversive" approach a century ago. "She was putting twists on it that if you did them today, people would say 'that's very subversive, you're subverting the genre'," said the American director, who has laced his efforts with considerable satire and humor.

"If Agatha Christie were writing right now, she'd have tech billionaires and she'd have these characters.

"She wasn't writing period pieces, she was writing exactly to her time and all of the things that we think of as murder mystery tropes were people in society."

- 'Doubles the laughs' -

Norton appeared to need little persuading to take on the fictional role of online app founder Miles Bron, with most of the movie taking place on his ludicrously lavish private Greek island as he hosts wealthy friends.

"What's not to love about roasting the tech illuminati?" the award-winning actor and filmmaker said with a smile, noting there was "abundant feedstock" for his character in contemporary life.

"When you can see the times you're living in and you can see the foibles -- not just the puffed up characters that we see in the world around us, but even ourselves -- it doubles the laugh, it doubles the pleasure," Norton added.

"That's why it was so wonderful that Rian (Johnson) found some new targets. It's also fun."

The filmmakers in London for the screening -- which follows a world premiere in Toronto last month -- were at pains not to reveal any giveaway spoilers about the twisting plot.

But one minor storyline Johnson and Craig did confirm is that their already-beloved main character, private detective Blanc, is gay -- with Hugh Grant making the most fleeting of appearances as his partner.

"Yes, he obviously is (gay)," Johnson said when asked, jokingly adding of Grant: "there's nobody in the world I can imagine bringing more joy for Benoit Blanc."

Now in its 66th year, the 12-day London Film Festival opened on Oct. 5

with a new musical screen adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic "Matilda." It also premiered Netflix's animated version of the classic "Pinocchio,"directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro, on Saturday. (AFP)