Glass Onion: Knives Out 2’s Cameos And Name-Drops, Explained

Daniel Craig in Glass Onion
(Image credit: Netflix)

Warning: SPOILERS for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery are ahead!

While the first Knives Out movie was unquestionably a star-studded affair, with Daniel Craig being joined by folks like Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collete, Chris Evans and Christopher Plummer, it didn’t have much in the way of major cameos. The closest was Joseph Gordon-Levitt, writer/director Rian Johnson’s frequent collaborator, voicing a TV detective, as well as Frank Oz stopping by as the legal counsel to the late Harlan Thrombey. Here’s a quick spoiler right out the gate: Gordon-Levitt once again lends to his talents to the follow-up movie as the voice of an alarm clock.

But even ignoring that, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a different beast because many of the suspects Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc is investigating this time around are famous and/or wealthy. As such, this crtically-acclaimed standalone sequel sees some of these individuals, as well as Blanc himself, interacting with various celebrities, and there are even a few Hollywood heavyweights who stops by as fictional characters rather than themselves. Now that Glass Onion is available to watch with a Netflix subscription following its short theatrical run at the end of November, now’s the perfect time to go over the movie’s cameos, as well as discuss some notable name-drops.

Jake Tapper interviewing Kathryn Hahn's character in Glass Onion

(Image credit: Netflix)

Jake Tapper

Every now and then, real-life TV journalists will cameo as themselves in major movies, like Pat Kiernan appearing in various MCU projects, Anderson Cooper reporting on Doomsday’s rampage in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Wolf Blitzer even playing a key role in the opening of Mission: Impossible - Fallout (though to be fair, we soon learned this was actually Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn in disguise). In Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, CNN’s Jake Tapper briefly appears early on interviewing Kathryn Hahn’s Claire Debella, the governor of Connecticut who’s running for the Senate. Claire chats with Tapper from her home in the midst of lockdown, quickly letting audiences know that Glass Onion takes place during the height of the COVID pandemic.

Yo-Yo Ma speaking to Jessica Henwick's character in Glass Onion

(Image credit: Netflix)

Yo-Yo Ma

Kate Hudson’s Birdie Jay is technically in lockdown at the start of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery; the problem is that she invited a lot of people to party with her at an apartment. It’s hard to imagine at least one person not walking away from that event with COVID, but the silver lining is that cellist Yo-Yo Ma was nearby when Birdie and her assistant, Jessica Henwick's Peg, were solving Miles Bron’s puzzle box over speakerphone with Claire, Leslie Odom Jr’s Miles Toussaint and Dave Bautista’s Duke Cody. Thanks to Ma’s welcome assistance figuring a musical aspect of the box, simply because he was bored, Birdie and the gang move one step closer to discovering what’s at the center of the box.

Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Natasha Lyonne on Zoom in Glass Onion

(Image credit: Netflix)

Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Natasha Lyonne

When we first meet back up with Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, he’s chatting with Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Natasha Lyonne over Zoom from his bathtub, playing the deduction game Among Us, with this movie marking Sondheim and Lansbury’s final film appearances. Benoit finds the game an inferior substitute to the actual cases he thrives on solving, but hasn’t been getting because of COVID, and the quartet do their best to cheer him up before Benoit is informed there's something at the door for him.

Lest you think Rian Johnson chose these four celebrities at random, think again, as they all have different ties to the mystery genre. Johnson previously referenced Stephen Sondheim in Knives Out when Benoit Blanc was singing “Losing My Mind” from Follies, and the filmmaker also compared Glass Onion’s story to the late composer and lyricist’s production Merrily We Roll Along while speaking with EW. Angela Lansbury, of course, played Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote over 12 seasons of TV and four TV movies. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has contributed to the world of Sherlock Holmes by co-writing the books Mycroft Holmes, Mycroft and Sherlock and Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage with Anna Waterhouse. As for Natasha Lyonne, she’s starring in Johnson’s upcoming series Poker Face, which Peacock subscribers will be able to watch.

Ethan Hawke in Glass Onion

(Image credit: Netflix)

Ethan Hawke

Although Ethan Hawke was never officially announced as being part of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’s cast, we learned of his involvement through leaked set photos. As it turned out, Hawke didn’t have a ton to do in the movie. He simply appeared as Miles Bron’s assistant (credited as “Efficient Man”), who oversaw the billionaire’s guests being given a spray that prevented them from contracting COVID before being taken to the island. In the aforementioned EW interview, Rian Johnson shared that Hawke wasn’t originally supposed to appear in Glass Onion, but because he was in Budapest doing Moon Knight when the movie was shooting in Greece, he was able to visit for a day to shoot his cameo.

Hugh Grant in Glass Onion

(Image credit: Netflix)

Hugh Grant

Ahead of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’s release, it was confirmed that Benoit Blanc is queer, although Rian Johnson didn’t want to get too bogged with the character’s backstory, and Daniel Craig didn’t want to make a big deal about Benoit’s sexuality. Nevertheless, at roughly the halfway point of Glass Onion, we meet the detective's domestic partner Phillip, played by rom-com heartthrob Hugh Grant. We see that it was Phillip who informed Benoit earlier in the movie about the arrival at the front door: Helen Brand, who's come to hire Benoit to investigate her twin sister Andi's death. Whether or not Phillip will return in Knives Out 3 remains to be seen.

Serena Williams in Glass Onion

(Image credit: Netflix)

Serena Williams

There’s a moment in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery when Benoit Blanc and Janelle Monáe's Helen Brand meet up in Miles Bron’s gym to discuss the case, and on the wall is what looks like a prerecorded home workout video on a fitness mirror featuring tennis superstar Serena Williams. But in the middle of Benoit and Helen’s conversation, Williams suddenly asks them if they want to do a "session" since she's on the clock, letting the audience know that Miles hired her as his personal trainer. The two characters decline, and Williams simply comments that it’s their money and hangs out silently for the rest of the scene. Williams has previously cameoed as herself in movies like Pixels and Ocean's 8.

Jared Leto as Morbius in Morbius

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Jared Leto

For these last two entries, we have people who didn’t actually appear in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, but are heavily featured indirectly. First up is Requiem for a Dream and Morbius actor Jared Leto, who in the Knives Out universe has his own brand of alcoholic kombucha. The beverage is notable because while Helen Brand doesn’t usually drink, she wasn’t aware the kombucha she was drinking had alcohol in it. Fortunately, this particular hard stuff gives her some liquid courage to say and do some things she wouldn’t have done if she was sober.

Jeremy Renner in Hawkeye

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Jeremy Renner

Then we have Hawkeye and Mayor of Kingstown’s Jeremy Renner, who has his own brand of hot sauce in the Knives Out universe. This particular item actually plays a big role during Glass Onion’s third act. While it initially looks like Helen Brand has been fatally shot right outside Miles Bron’s home (who pulled the trigger is one spoiler I won’t reveal here just to be safe), we later learn that the diary of Helen’s late sister And blocked the bullet. After Benoit learns Helen is still alive, he realizes the value in faking her death for a little bit in order to glean more information from the other suspects. As such, Benoit uses some of Jeremy Renner’s hot sauce as fake blood to sell the picture of Helen looking dead from afar. There’s a brief moment where it looks like the ruse will be ruined when a droplet of the hot sauce starts leaking towards Helen’s nose, but she holds in any sort of reaction like a champ until everyone has left the area.

Now that we’ve gone over Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’s cameos and especially notable name-drops, be sure to read our review of the Knives Out sequel and breakdown of its ending. Per the deal Rian Johnson and producer Ram Bergman agreed to with Netflix, Knives Out 3 is also on its way to Netflix, and once concrete details about the threequel come in, we’ll pass them along.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.