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Landing Stephen Sondheim Was Key To Getting Angela Lansbury In Glass Onion

The critically hailed "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" is very much a pandemic movie. Written during the lockdowns of 2020 and set in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sequel to "Knives Out" has no qualms about revisiting that dark time in our collective memory. Even Benoit Blanc, the unflappable and brilliant detective at the heart of the "Knives Out" films, wallows in a lockdown-induced depression at the start of "Glass Onion." Detectives: They're just like us!

But it's Blanc's sulking that leads to one of the film's standout moments, namely the appearance of TV, movie, and stage legend Angela Lansbury. Internationally recognized for her role as author and sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the long-running CBS series "Murder, She Wrote," Lansbury seemed to be a perfect addition to the murder- and mystery-filled "Knives Out" universe. However, it was no easy task getting Lansbury to appear in "Glass Onion," as director Rian Johnson has revealed. In fact, it took a bit of convincing from one of Lansbury's good friends.

Stephen Sondheim gave Rian Johnson a very helpful tip

When Angela Lansbury shows up in "Glass Onion," she's not only playing herself but also engaging in a hearty game of Among Us with a sullen Benoit Blanc and his chosen group of pandemic buddies. In addition to Lansbury, that group includes none other than Stephen Sondheim, Natasha Lyonne, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Sondheim, who like Lansbury, passed away recently, had his own connection to murder-mystery movies. Along with Anthony Perkins, Sondheim penned the script for "The Last of Sheila," a 1973 thriller that incidentally served as inspiration for "Glass Onion's" plot (via Entertainment Weekly).

And as it turns out, Sondheim was instrumental in getting Lansbury — with whom he had worked on "Sweeney Todd" — to film her cameo. According to Rian Johnson, who directed both "Knives Out" movies, Sondheim suggested using his name to lure her. "I mentioned to him that we were trying to get Angela Lansbury. And he said, 'Oh, Angie — I'm friends with her. Tell her I'm doing it. She'll do it,'" Johnson told The New York Times.

Fortunately, it all worked out, and Lansbury's cameo is a delightful high point in a film already full of them. Now, all fans can do is wait to see what surprises Johnson has cooking for "Knives Out 3."