‘Knives Out’ speaks to politics today. Rian Johnson and Jamie Lee Curtis say that’s intentional

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One of the most universally well-received movies at the Toronto International Film Festival was the world premiere of “Knives Out,” the new film from writer-director Rian Johnson, whose previous movie was “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Taking its inspiration from Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries, the movie is about the aftermath of the sudden and shocking death of a wealthy mystery novelist, played by Christopher Plummer.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Riki Lindhome, Jaeden Martell, Katherine Langford and Toni Collette play his family and likely heirs, while the cast also includes Daniel Craig, Lakeith Stanfield and, in a star-making turn, Ana de Armas.

Rian Johnson, Don Johnson, Curtis and Martell stopped by The Times’ studio in Toronto to discuss the movie, and the way it slyly comments on contemporary issues of class, race and wealth disparity even while playing as an old-fashioned whodunit.


“The whole idea was not let’s take an old-timey thing and skin it with modern-day life,” said Rian Johnson. “The whole idea was let’s genuinely update this, let’s genuinely take this and plug it into today. And so all the stuff that all of us are dealing with today, that just naturally was going to be in there.”

The interview was the morning after the film’s world premiere, and so the cast was still buzzing with excitement from their unveiling in Toronto.

“I went to bed last night recreating the puzzle,” said Curtis. “This movie was made less than a year from you seeing it, so when you talk about the politics and the class disparity, it’s only amplified now more but it’s happening right now, right here. And again that’s all a testament to Rian and this amazing opportunity.

“Toni Collette came up to me last night and she said, ‘I love our movie!’” added Curtis. “Because you just don’t know when you’re in it what it’s going to be. You just don’t know.”