Earlier this week, Netflix closed a monumentally pricey deal (to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars) to bring two sequels to director Rian Johnson’s hit 2019 movie Knives Out to the streaming service. All we know about their plots at press time is that they’ll be Agatha Christie–esque mysteries to be unpacked and potentially solved by Daniel Craig’s taffy-mouthed private eye, Benoit Blanc. Here at Vulture, there’s nothing we love more than dream-casting projects we’re excited about, so in honor of Kn2ves Out and Kniv3s Out’s impending arrivals, we’ve asked the staff to dig deep into their rolodexes to help Johnson staff up his highly anticipated sequels.
In both Derry Girls and Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan plays characters that are bubbly and a little neurotic, with a winking slyness hinting that she might have a secret. That plucky vulnerability would perfectly translate to a drawing room murder mystery. Coughlan would kill (literally?) as a dippy heiress — can’t you just picture her collapsing onto a fainting couch? — who’s much smarter than she lets on. Yes, I am saying I want Nicola Coughlan to play a murderer, please and thank you. —Emily Heller
These kinds of drawing-room style murder mysteries pretty much always have at least one aging, veteran actor among the cast of suspects (and, sometimes, the victims). Knives Out of course had the late Christopher Plummer, but don’t forget Bette Davis in Death on the Nile, or James Mason in Evil Under the Sun, or John Gielgud in Appointment With Death. So, I’d love to see the great Faye Dunaway, who as far as I can tell is only sorta-kinda retired, appear in one of these films. Dunaway is obviously an icon (on a variety of levels), and while she hasn’t necessarily racked up successes in the latter part of her career, she still has an elegance and an unpredictability that would be perfect for a murder mystery; she can keep you guessing as to what’s going on in her head. In fact, she was the absolute high-point in a dual role in 1985’s Agatha Christie adaptation Thirteen at Dinner, one of the Hercule Poirot films Peter Ustinov made after the success of Death on the Nile. Dunaway absolutely has the range. The question is: Do the filmmakers have the imagination to cast her? —Bilge Ebiri
Whether she’s playing the officious otherworldly Terry in Soul or tracking down the heroes of Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Rachel House has a knack for being a comedic standout and could surely pull it off again in any Knives Out ensemble. Maybe she’s a bumbling detective who keeps postulating things Benoit Blanc proves wrong. Maybe she’s a scheming hotel owner banking on an insurance payout from the murder victim. She’s versatile! Plus, if Johnson lets her use her New Zealand accent, it’d really play well with Craig’s whole faux-Southern schtick. I’m mostly about ensuring we get as many takes on the English language in one movie as possible. —Jackson McHenry
Obviously Matt Berry. Obviously! But it’s extremely hard to decide if he should play Detective Blanc’s no-good boss who thinks he’s wasting his time or the murder victim’s no-good brother-in-law who we eventually find out owes a lot of money on some bad investments. Regardless, he’ll need a white suit jacket and a pipe, but he can probably supply his own scarf. —Anne Clark
Gary Cole can do it all. Smarmy jerk you just want to punch? He has smarm down to a science in Office Space. Stoic misanthrope who throws out one-liners? Kent Davidson in Veep is iconic. Dirtbag drifter? See: Talladega Nights. Stern father figure with a heart of gold? Watch Cadet Kelly! Any of those archetypes would fill out a Knives Out ensemble nicely. For my money, though, a mashup of the first two is the way to go. Like Michael Shannon and Don Jonhson’s characters in the original film, Cole would be an excellent version of the guy you just want to punch — whether or not he’s guilty. — E.H.
Inevitably there will be a character who knows where an incriminating note — or a copy of a will — is hidden, but they’ll be too afraid to reveal it until something crazy happens in the third act. This character should be played by Susan Wokoma, who is especially good when she gets the chance to enact some kind of panicked scheme. —A.C.
Because the entirety of my free time is consumed with thoughts of Elizabeth Debicki in 2018’s criminally underrated Widows, a perfect movie stuffed with a perfect cast, I similarly haven’t been able to stop imaging dream roles for her. Debicki has certainly soared since then — she’s Princess Diana in 2022’s season of The Crown, because sometimes good things happen — but the big screen (er, Netflix too, I guess) is where someone of her mammoth talent belongs. Rian: Go meta with this one. Cast her as a grieving widow. Make a Widows reference. Let her turn to the camera and wink and say “widows.” Then take all my money. —Brennan Carley
This feels self-explanatory? —B.C.