The Knives Out 3 Casting Is Genius. Here's Who's In It (2024)

Every aspect of a Knives Out movie is meticulously planned: The gorgeous locales set an ominous mood; the carefully plotted twists are revealed at just the right moment; even the sweaters are laden with meaning. But the best part of this comic-mystery franchise is the casting.

It's not just that each movie is stacked with heavy hitters like Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Plummer and chock full of unexpected cameos. (How much did Netflix pay Serena Williams and Yo-Yo Ma to show up for sight gags in Glass Onion? How about Ethan Hawke and Hugh Grant?) Director Rian Johnson and his casting directors, Mary Vernieu and Bret Howe, understand the ensemble needed for the special alchemy of a successful whodunnit. It takes a certain caliber of actor to sell a movie that's full of ideas but not self-serious, thrilling but not ridiculous.

There are several categories of actors that are crucial to any Knives Out mystery: The young discovery (Ana De Armas, Madelyn Cline); the hilarious character actor (Michael Shannon, Dave Bautista); the reliable comedienne (Toni Collette, Kathryn Hahn); the multi-hyphenate phenom (Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe).

Johnson often asks his actors to play off or against their famous personas. The first Knives Out film cast Chris Evans as a scumbag at the height of his fame for playing the ultimate goody two-shoes superhero, Captain America. In Glass Onion, Kate Hudson gently mocked her own Fabletics empire. And never forget the decision to cast Edward Norton as an Elon Musk stand-in—chef's kiss.

As a result, the Internet has been having a field day with the news—folks rejoiced as beloved stars like Josh O'Connor and Kerry Washington were announced. But not all of the casting decisions have been greeted with joy: Some have pointed out that Jeremy Renner’s ex-wife accused him of abuse during their divorce. (Renner denied her claims.) Mila Kunis, along with her husband Ashton Kutcher, wrote a letter in support of former co-star and convicted rapist Danny Masterson during his trial. (They later apologized.) Josh Brolin was arrested in 2004 for domestic battery. (Brolin’s ex-wife Diane Lane didn’t press charges, and Brolin told the New York Times, “There’s no explaining it.“)

Read More: 15 Whodunnits to Watch After Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

The plot of the movie remains, well, a mystery. But we know that Daniel Craig is returning as the world's best—or, at least, best dressed—detective, Benoit Blanc. Filming will take place in the U.K., home to Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, legends who defined the mystery genre. And Wake Up Dead Man carries on the curious tradition of naming Knives Out sequels after songs by incredibly popular bands. (In this case, U2.) Given there was a literal glass onion in Glass Onion, we can go ahead and assume there will be a dead man in this movie. But which famous actor will be the corpse? And who will be the killer? Let's wildly speculate.

Here's everyone who is confirmed to star in Wake Up Dead Man:

Daniel Craig

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Benoit Blanc is back. The Foghorn Leghorn Southern drawl that began (I think?) as a self-aware joke has become a harbinger of joy each time a new Knives Out teaser drops. Do I wish Daniel Craig was doing a wider variety of movies in his post-007 years? I do. But he's starring in a Luca Guadagnino movie next, so I can't really complain.

Read More: Inside the Creation of Knives Out, One of the Most Unexpectedly Subversive Films of the Year

Josh O'Connor

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Speaking of Luca Guadagnino...If you don't know who Josh O'Connor is, close this tab right now and go rent the Zendaya love triangle tennis movie Challengers. He plays the sexy dirtbag in the love triangle. In fact, O'Connor specializes in sexy dirtbags. He played an awkward yet somehow semi-sexy dirtbag version of Prince Charles on The Crown. He played a sexy dirtbag treasure hunter whose linen suit was quite literally covered in dirt in La Chimera. The man has the perfect smug grin. I can't wait for him to deploy said grin in an interrogation with Benoit Blanc.

Read More: Breaking Down the Bonkers Ending of Challengers

Jeremy Renner

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First, I am so glad that Jeremy Renner is healthy and starring in his first movie since he was severely injured in a snow plow accident in 2023. I am a Renner fan, and I stand by my hot take that Hawkeye is the best Marvel TV show.

Now let's dig into this casting. This is an interesting choice. Jeremy Renner actually already exists in the Knives Out universe. There is a running joke in Glass Onion about Renner's (fictional) private line of hot sauce. It's called Renning Hot, which is kind of perfect. So will Jeremy Renner be playing himself in Wake Up Dead Man? I hope so: Renner has embarked on some fascinating and confounding ventures over the years, including house flipping, and, hilariously, the Jeremy Renner app. (It was exactly what it sounds like: An app full of Jeremy Renner content.) Perhaps he's entering a new era of self-referential stardom. You love to see it.

Andrew Scott

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It's time we stop calling Andrew Scott Hot Priest. Sure, his devout Fleabag character was worthy of our collective lust. But he has played so many other hot men: The con man Tom Ripley in Ripley, the villainous Moriarty in Sherlock, a corrupt spy in the James Bond movie Spectre. Anyway, Andrew Scott is a true thespian, and some day he will shed the name Hot Priest. Maybe he will become Hot Murderer instead. I mean, come on, look at his resume. You don't need to tell me the plot of Wake Up Dead Man. I already know Andrew Scott did it.

Glenn Close

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Glenn Close still hasn't won an Academy Award. She's gotten close so many times, including with The Wife, which I'm not sure anyone saw. And then there was her nomination for her role as Mamaw in Hillbilly Elegy. But you know what? We don't have to talk about that. Is Wake Up Dead Man finally going to earn Close that sweet Oscar gold? If she channels her 101 Dalmatians energy, I think Netflix could get a campaign going. (If you are not a child of the '90s, Google the live-action 101 Dalmatians movie. Close is giving Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada...but before Devil Wears Prada existed. But instead of wearing Prada she is wearing dog fur. We don't talk enough about how unhinged Cruella De Vil was.)

Kerry Washington

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We know from years of Scandal that Kerry Washington can deliver a self-righteous speech, and I would expect Johnson to write her one for this movie. The writer-director likes to poke fun at the rich and powerful in this franchise, and he has already skewered entitled heirs to vast fortunes in Knives Out and tech billionaires in Glass Onion. Who will he go after next? Will Washington express her indignation as a hedge fund billionaire bemoaning taxes? An Olivia Pope-esque fixer hired by the British royals after a member of the family gets caught in an indecent situation? The head of a corporation jacking up the prices for Taylor Swift tickets?

Cailee Spaeny

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Cailee Spaeny, consciously or not, is currently competing for the position of new Hollywood "it" girl. She's already starred as a woman trapped in a gilded cage in Sofia Coppola's Priscilla and a ruthlessly ambitious war zone photographer in Alex Garland's Civil War. Later this summer, she'll prove her scary movie chops in Alien: Romulus. Her portrayal of the wide-eyed Priscilla Presley, in particular, reminds me of Ana de Armas in Knives Out: An innocent slowly begins to understand how fame and wealth become corrupting forces. Spaeny may very well be our point-of-view character.

Mila Kunis

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Thanks to years of residuals and tech investments, Mila Kunis—and her husband and That '70s Show costar Ashton Kutcher—have a lot of money, even for successful actors. So, lately, they’ve made their mark on the culture by doing ridiculous things like spending years building a completely sustainable, perfectly appointed farmhouse. Seems ripe for a Knives Out movie, right? That said, we shouldn't forget that Kunis got her start being funny on That '70s Show, in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and is still a voice on the long-running Family Guy. She’s got that sardonic sense of humor down pat, and she’s starred in two movies about motherhood. Maybe she’s a privileged momfluencer who has made big bucks preying on less fortunate parents’ anxieties. Or maybe Johnson will flip the switch and she’ll show up as the opposite: a down on her luck party girl looking for her next payday.

Daryl McCormack

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Add Good Luck to You, Leo Grande and Bad Sisters star Daryl McCormack’s name to the suspect list. The addition of another Irish actor to the cast has us wondering whether the movie may be at least partially set in Ireland. Someone call Cillian Murphy’s agent!

Josh Brolin

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Thanos has entered the chat. A man known for playing iconic villains (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Deadpool 2, and, arguably, the Dune films depending on your politics) joins the cast. But will he be a big bad or a goofy good guy? Though Josh Brolin is known for his intensity, he’s shown off his comedic chops in movies by the Coen brothers and could be a deadpan policeman who butts heads with Benoit Blanc.

Thomas Haden Church

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Thomas Haden Church can play an average Joe who breaks bad (see: his portrayal of Sandman in the emo musical Spider-Man 3) or he can play a cad (see: Sideways). So a lot of options are available here. Johnson, just a suggestion: Paul Giamatti would be absolutely kill a role in this franchise, and if you could get him and Church sipping Merlot in the same shot, many cinephiles would be grateful.

The Knives Out 3 Casting Is Genius. Here's Who's In It (2024)
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