A couple weeks ago news broke that Netflix had acquired the rights to produce two sequels to Rian Johnson’s smash murder mystery hit Knives Out. The existence of sequels to Knives Out was no surprise, as Johnson had made it clear in countless interviews that he had a blast making the first film and that if there was a demand for more, he would love to create more mysteries for Benoit Blanc to tackle.
What makes these sequels fascinating though is that they in all likelihood will only bring back Daniel Craig’s character and exchange all the first film’s characters for new and exciting ones, similar to how Agatha Christie wrote her character Poirot into a series of books wherein he was the only connective tissue.
This means that the Knives Out sequels will almost definitely have completely new casts — which is exciting to say the least. Johnson knows that these films thrive on star-power, indeed the cast for the first film was among the most exciting ensembles in recent history, so for the sequels he’s going to have to pull off the impossible — assemble a totally new cast that at the very least equals the star power of the first film.
I think it’s a fun exercise to try to predict who he’s going to cast. There are a few ways logically I’ve come to my predictions, as well as many that are simply me trying to speak things into existence (i.e. Nicolas Cage). But regardless of motive, I think it’ll be fun to look back and see if any of these predictions come to pass.
If I was Rian Johnson, and I had just made the highest rated Star Wars movie ever followed by an original film that made big bucks at the box office, I would definitely try to leverage this to work with some of the greats of all time. In the first film you had all-timers like Jamie Lee-Curtis and the late great Christopher Plummer. In the sequels, I think it’s likely that Johnson could cast someone like Willem Dafoe, Al Pacino, Frances McDormand or Gary Oldman.
Willem Dafoe is well Willem Dafoe. He’s a deity, that man. And what’s more he clearly enjoys starring in all sorts of films. The genre-PG-13 nature of Knives Out would fit right along with his work in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman movies or the recent Aquaman/Justice League role he had. Frances McDormand has starred in many genre films made by her husband and brother-in-law as well as…. Transformers: Dark of The Moon. Yeah…. Anyway, she is no stranger to genre and nothing but a friend to auteurs like Johnson. Pacino and Oldman are a little more tough, but Oldman starred in Nolan’s Batman films and Pacino seems like he’d be up for fun akin to something like his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood role. I feel pretty strongly that at least one of these actors could show up in one of the sequels as the powerful head of the family or something akin.
In the spirit of the old Christie adaptations, Johnson strived to cast modern movie stars in the first film in the form of Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, and the skinny kid from Stranger Things. With the sequels I hope he harvests the talent of freshly established talent like Florence Pugh, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Margot Robbie. Robbie granted has now been around for about a decade, but she’s still Hollywood’s poster super mega star. She’s also no stranger to genre, and it would be nice for her to play something other than Harley Quinn. Anya Taylor-Joy is having a proverbial moment. After debuting in The VVitch and recently winning big with The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, Taylor-Joy already has an exciting couple years ahead of her, with Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho and George Miller’s Furiosa movie. Why not add another auteur genre picture to the mix? And of course, Florence Pugh, who a couple years ago had the best year an actress has had in a long long time with the one-two punch of Midsommar and Little Women. Pugh will star in Black Widow later this summer so she’ll cement her status as a bombshell movie star. She’s a prediction I’m most hopeful about. She kicks ass at everything she does.
One thing the first Knives Out was lacking in was actors of color. While that was justified in the plot of Knives Out (Ana de Armas’ Marda represented the use of the American immigrant descendent by rich white America), in the sequels there will scarcely be an excuse for Johnson not to draw from the immense pool amazing minority talent in Hollywood right now. Lupita Nyong’o hasn’t had a notable role since Jordan Peele’s Us, which she kicked ass in. Regina King is also having an amazing moment right now with If Beale St. Could Talk, the very genre-y Watchmen, and her directorial debut One Night in Miami. She would kick ass in a Knives Out sequel. Speaking of Watchmen, a break-out performance from that series was Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who will star in his own genre picture later this year in the form of the long delayed Candyman.
Other amazing people who I think we all want to see more of include Ramy Youssef, who is amazing, Aquafina, who is amazing, and Steven Yeun, who is amazing. Those folks have all been in indie films and genre TV alike, and a role in a Knives Out sequel could give them the exposure they deserve.
One thing auteurs like Johnson like to do is work with the same actors over and over again. I get it, you know. Good actors are hard to come by, and even scarcer are good actors who you work well with. So when you find someone who completes you it’s too good not to milk for all they’re worth…. yeah…
Johnson has already worked with an amazing roster of acting talent of all different generations and skill-sets. Adam Driver is a long shot — he’s doing just fine making artsy masterpieces with the likes of Noah Baumbach and Martin Scorsese, but fellow Last Jedi stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are kind of starving for roles right now after the dumpsterfire that was The Rise of Skywalker. A role in the Knives Out sequels would give them a chance to remind everyone that they’re more than just Rey and Finn.
Johnson has also worked with some of the greats including Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, and the incomparable Laura Dern. Of those three I’d most love to see what Laura Dern could do in a Knives Out sequel. Who knows what Willis is doing these days. I imagine Del Toro is just kinda chillin.
Speaking of chillin, there are a few actors who seem to be doing just that and involuntarily so. I would love for Johnson to use his Knives Out clout (ha, that rhymes) to pull a Tarantino and resurrect the career of a once great movie star. I’m hoping for someone like John Travolta or Nicolas Cage — or even better: John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. Rumor has it they’re coming back for the sequel to 1997 action extravaganza and greatest film of all time Face/Off. Perhaps the clout from the Face/Off sequel can amp up their Knives Out chances. Really I just wanna see Nicolas Cage consummate his lifelong goal to star in every movie ever made.
As for Downey, he is clearly not washed up or hurting for jobs in any way. That said, his last film was 2020’s Doolittle, so maybe he’ll want to retire on a um better note. He would definitely be a spicy addition to a Knives Out ensemble. And also we’ve kinda been so used to seeing him as just Iron Man that we’ve forgotten how good of an actor he is. Look at Zodiac. Look at the Sherlock Holmes movies (not a far cry from Knives Out themselves). I think it would be cool.
So yeah we’ll see if any of these predictions/hopes/wishes come to pass. I would love to bet money with someone on it, cause god knows I’m not making any money on Medium.
Also, I wanna speak into existence my emaculate hope that Johnson will continue the tradition started with the first film and name the next two films after tracks from Radiohead’s 2002 album, Amnesiac. I would personally love to pay money to see a film called “Packt Like Sardines In a Crushd Tin Box” Seriously though, titles like Dollars and Cents and Hunting Bears could actually work.
I would love for whoever’s reading this to comment their predictions and hopes for the cast of Rian Johnson’s Knives Out sequels. I think you have to make a medium account and that’s far too much work for most people so… yeah, I guess I’ll just talk to my girlfriend about it and get my conversational fix that way.
Blessed film-watching to you all.