This January will mark the 15th anniversary since Rian Johnson’s directorial debut Brick wowed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival, and marked a new chapter in the career of TV-star turned movie star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Since then, the pair reteamed for 2012’s Looper, in which Gordon-Levitt played a hardened hitman in a dystopian world. However, even when he’s not Johnson’s leading man, the charming ingendude pops up in cameos. In The Brothers Bloom, he’s an extra in a swinging bar scene. In Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, he threw on a Southern accent to lend a voice to the alien Slowen-Lo. Now, in Johnson’s latest, Knives Out ,Gordon-Levitt makes a cameo so sly even a top P.I. might miss it.
Like Brick, Knives Out is an inventive murder mystery with an eccentric detective on the case. An original ode to Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie, the film is absolutely stacked with stars, boasting Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Christopher Plummer, Toni Collette…and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Forget the “blink and you’ll miss him” cameo in The Brothers Bloom. To catch JGL in Knives Out, you have to listen closely for his signature excitement and gravitas in a voice-only cameo. It happens early in the film, when nurse Marta (de Armas) is home with her mother and sister. In their kitchen, her sister is watching a crime procedural in which an unseen cop snarls to a suspect, “You left him bleeding like a stuck pig!” That is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, speaking of blood and “burned off fingerprints.”
But how did this come about?
Ahead of its special screening at Fantastic Fest, Pajiba sat down with Johnson in a haunted house-themed karaoke room to talk about Knives Out, and obviously ask his thoughts on Best Chris and the Cats trailer. Since then, we’ve sat on spoilers so as not to ruin the fun of this outrageous whodunit. But with the movie now in theaters, here’s what Johnson had to say about Gordon-Levitt’s cameo, what might be their next reteam, and how Laura Dern could come into play.
“I thought he did a great kind of CSI David Caruso thing,” Johnson said of Gordon-Levitt’s delivery. As to how the cameo came about, he explained, “It was kind of a fun thing. It was like the same thing with The Last Jedi. He has a voice cameo in that. I always have to find a way to get him in there. But God, I’m hoping we can actually work together again soon. I miss working with that guy.”
“He’s doing his Hit Record thing,” Johnson said, referring to why audiences haven’t seen much of JGL on the big screen of late. “Which is really successful and he really loves. But I want to get him back and into a movie.”
Johnson has a pitch at the ready. If Knives Out is a hit, he’d like to create a sequel, bringing back his southern-fried sleuth Benoit Blanc (Craig). And if Johnson has his druthers, Gordon-Levitt would be in that sequel’s ensemble. “That’d be a blast: him and me doing this thing, if (Knives Out) does great.” He leaned over to knock on wood for good luck. The nearest wood in the haunted house-themed room was a long, wooden coffee table shaped like a coffin. It’s hard to say if that’s a bad omen or —considering the film’s murderous content—just a fitting good luck charm!
Of the proposed Knives Out sequel, Johnson said, “I can’t think of anything more fun than every few years just doing a new one: with a new cast, new place, talk about some new stuff. And Daniel (Craig) and I had so much fun working together. I think that would just be a blast.”
So, let’s assume Craig is on board for a Knives Out sequel and Gordon-Levitt is game to join in the whodunit fun. Who else would Johnson have in his dream cast?
Without a moment’s hesitation, he said, “Laura Dern. I want to get Laura Dern in here so badly.”
Johnson then leaned closer to my recorder and restated for emphasis, “Laura, if you’re reading this, I’m coming for you.”
Knives Out is now in theaters.
Header Image Source: Getty