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Janelle Monáe On The “Casual Cool” Queerness Of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story

Janelle Monáe On The “Casual Cool” Queerness Of Glass Onion

Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story
Courtesy of Netflix

They also dish to PRIDE about their complex character and how Rian Johnson wrote a deliciously timely tale.

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Following up on a film like Knives Out is no easy task. It was that lightning-in-a-bottle combination of a cleverly twisting story, pitch-perfect casting, and scenery-chewing performances that comes along so rarely. As it turns out, the key to recapturing the same magic in a sequel, the key element to that alchemy was casting Janelle Monáe in a central role in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story. They burn bright and mysteriously as Andi Brand, the aggrieved former business partner of Edward Norton’s Miles Bron.

Like everyone in a Knives Out story, Andi is far more complicated than she appears and, as such, Monáe gets to play in her performance in a way audiences have yet to see in her already impressive list of acting credits. No wonder she jumped at the chance to star in the role: it’s exactly the kind of complex character that Monáe thrives in. “She’s so mysterious, so layered. She’s also super smart,” Monáe tells PRIDE. “She’s a tech entrepreneur, so she’s in a world where not a lot of people look like her sit in those CEO positions. And I love the fact that she wants to do good with her power, with her influence.”

Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, and Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story

Courtesy of Netflix

Does that mean she’s a hero? Maybe... maybe not. “She’s also complicated,” teases Monáe. “She has a complicated relationship with Miles Bron and the rest of the friends who get invited to Bron’s private island for a murder mystery party, and things just get wild and shit goes down.”

For the uninitiated, Glass Onion sees the return of Daniel Craig’s master detective character introduced in Knives Out, Benoit Blanc, who is sent a mysterious invitation to join a group of influential (and controversial) friends for a weekend at billionaire Miles Bron’s house for, of all things, a murder mystery party. “Among those on the guest list are Miles’ former business partner Andi Brand, current Connecticut governor Claire Debella, cutting-edge scientist Lionel Toussaint, fashion designer and former model Birdie Jay, her conscientious assistant Peg, and influencer Duke Cody and his sidekick girlfriend Whiskey. As in all the best murder mysteries, each character harbors their own secrets, lies, and motivations. When someone turns up dead, everyone is a suspect,” reads the official synopsis. The film also stars Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, and Madelyn Cline with Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista, each in deliciously wicked roles.

The Cast of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story

Courtesy of Netflix

Like Knives Out before it, Glass Onion takes great inspiration from the works of Agatha Christie through a very contemporary lens. Like Christie before him, writer-director Rian Johnson’s (Looper, The Last Jedi) writing speaks to our time, explains Monáe. “I think [with Edward Norton’s character Miles Bron] in particular, he could be so many people right now. He’s an amalgamation of so much,” they surmise. “I think first and foremost, though, as Rian would say, we’re here to entertain. This is a wild twisty film that’s meant to bring people together and entertain, but it absolutely has something to say.”

One of the things it has to say is about the place queerness has in our modern world, which came as a wonderful surprise to Monáe. “I didn’t know until I actually saw it,” reveals Monáe. “I got a chance to see the film in a small theater. Rian showed it to me and I was just like, ‘Oh, I love it! I mean, I’m queer nonbinary as you know — you guys are family you know this about me already — so it was just great to have that representation and not be like a big thing. It’s like, super normal, casual cool, as it should be.”

Daniel Craig and Janelle Monae in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story

Courtesy of Netflix

That kind of effort around inclusion (along with Monáe’s stellar performance) is just one of many reasons why Glass Onion is one of this year’s very best films and an absolute must-watch.

Glass Onion premieres in theaters November 23 and on Netflix December 23. Watch PRIDE’s full interview with Janelle Monáe below.

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author avatar

Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.