Rian Johnson and Natasha Lyonne want to fight overeating models with their new TV show, poker face. But the Knives Out director didn’t realize how hard a sell it was going to be .
“Serial stories in the streaming world are now only gravitational to a million suns,” the filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter January before the Peacock series launch. “I didn’t really anticipate how much the only thing people thought about in terms of storytelling was.”
At Poker Face, Lyonne (who is also an executive producer, writer and director) stars as Charlie Kyle . She’s not a legally recognized detective by any means, but her unique skills as a “human lie detector” — along with her innate desire to right some of the world’s wrongs — put her at the center of a weekly murder mystery plot -episode. Her With backstory and purpose established in the first episode — she’s pitted against Benjamin Bratt and Adrien Brody — she’s the beating heart of the road trip, murder-mystery show that takes a different turn with each new episode. The story and location of the episode.
Creator-writer-director Johnson’s first TV series (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) released four episodes, then moved to weekly releases. Johnson said the model was inspired by TV shows he and Leon grew up watching, such as Magnum PI, Murder, She Wrote , Quantum Leap — The show has continuity, but each episode tells a complete story.
Below, Johnson delves into his next mystery product and shares his love of working in TV while offering some insight into Some insights from Knives Out 3 , following Netflix’s Glass Onion. He also talked about the “howcatchem” format drawing The A-list actor of Poker Face
said he wished there were more More seasons: “I can imagine [Natasha] Jessica Fletcher-ing it. I’d be thrilled.”
You and Natasha Lyonne explain how the idea for poker face was born at a dinner party from the two of you about your detective series on the past love conversation. You also said while watching Russian Doll
After Natasha, you know she could host the show as lead character Charlie Kyle. What happened between you and Natasha during that conversation?
We were friends before that. So we know we get along well with each other. We know we get along well. When we hang out, we are very, very different in a way. I don’t know how to explain it, but we quickly agree with serious people who can also be very non-serious (laugh ).
However, the reality is that I have less of a spark for her as a person – though that’s a big part of it – and more importantly you Saying that seeing her on screen is just that extremely rare thing of recognizing someone with that kind of charm and personality. And recognizing that’s an essential element of the type of show I’ve been kicking and wanting to do.
You said Poker Face‘s weekly mystery format is rare in the binge era, and the way serials spend an entire season wrapping up a mystery is more of the moment. What kind of feedback did you get in town? How is the pitch process different in TV?
We did get a lot of blank stares. Interesting. I basically wrote the pilot episode, and that was the pitch process. Then we went out. We have sent the pilot and a small file. But it’s really just me explaining how the show is going to move forward [after the pilot]. Serial stories in the streaming world are now only gravitational in a million suns. I didn’t really anticipate how much the only thing people think about is storytelling. This really surprised me.
That’s the way of thinking right now, even if we’re pitching this to some very smart people who understand TV. That that’s what keeps people watching; a continuous arc in one season. And I just keep coming back and repeating that all the shows I grew up watching weren’t final cliffhangers. They want to come back and hang out with this character you love and see them win, which is just as addictive. That’s something I miss too, and I bet a lot of people miss it too. Peacock is the one who really responds to that and gets really excited about it. That’s how we know we’ve found the right partner.
When Natasha and I were talking about making Russian Doll, She described the writer’s room as a beautiful mind , and the intricate way they keep track of the timeline. How was your participation in the room? What was your writing process like Poker Face Easter eggs, timelines, and non-linear storytelling?
I’m into it. I am in the room every day. I was lucky to have Nora and Lilla [Zuckerberg, co-showrunners] teach me the tricks of how to work in the writer’s room. And there’s a group of really talented writers there too. And then for me, it was really a process, and a lot of fun, figuring out how to get both worlds. How to collaborate with everyone and still feel like I have creative ownership, if that makes sense. This is a very new process for me. I’m kind of feeling my way forward. I am very grateful to Zucks and our writers for guiding me through it. But at the end of the day, I’m really enjoying it. It’s much less lonely than writing a special topic!
Let’s talk about this actor. I think you call people up and say, “We have this awesome character, want to see it?”
[Editor’s Note: The cast includes Cherry Jones , Chloë Sevigny, Ellen Barkin, Jameela Jamil, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Judith Light, Lil Rel Howery, Luis Guzmán, Nick Nolte, S. Epatha Merkerson, Tim Blake Nelson, Tim Meadows and more. ]
No! (laughs.) Please keep imagining and manifesting it for me because that would be good!
How do you find stars like this every episode, is anyone hesitant to play characters like they die so fast?
No, this is fun. First off, casting is always difficult, and it’s all about timelines. That’s it. Same goes for Glass Onion. After the success of Knives Out, the world is no longer our oyster. When you’re looking at top talent, they’re busy people, and you see who has six months to spare in the middle of the year. You are still dealing with that reality.
Similar to this, we are lucky to be together. For me, part of the reason can be traced back to the “howcatchem” format. It’s not like we have to deal with eight suspects in this hour of TV. In a secondary sense, we can really dedicate this story to both the murderer and the victim. They could really own the episode. And I think send a script and you have a better chance of getting a star. We don’t really have any Janet Leigh cameos. We don’t have a single massive star dying of 70 Minutes, that’s all — well, I think we have a couple. But for the most part, you quickly recognize who that episode is and who you’re leading with, and try to get the audience to recognize someone in that part.
because Poker Face format, it feels like a show that could go on forever. How long have you imagined?
Natasha and I keep talking about getting old doing this. I can imagine her being a Jessica Fletcher. I will be very excited. However, we’ll see. I learned: one step at a time. Let’s put it out there and see if people see it first. But it’s clearly built with the engine to keep running.
I also want to ask your other detective… what do you think 1229415 Knockout 3?
I’ve only just started looking for ideas, but I’m Really, really excited about them. For me, the creatively exciting thing is: how is it different from the first two films, and how can I scare myself the right way? In a sense: this is very different, and I wonder if I can do this? This is what I’m looking for now. But it’s a truly exhilarating creative challenge. I had a great time, even with the initial little sting.
What do you think you’ll be using Knives Out
3 and another poker face season?
I don’t know how it works. We also have a Benoit Blanc mystery to deliver to Netflix. My assumption was that I would then do three of these films in a row, and then I would do something completely different with the film. In terms of how Poker Face fits into it? I have no idea. This will be something to figure out year by year.
Interview edited for clarity.