Frank Oz is reuniting with Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson on the upcoming murder mystery, Knives Out. Before he took his trip to a galaxy far, far away, Johnson was known for making unconventional genre films like The Brothers Bloom and Looper. Indeed, he started his feature moviemaking career off with Brick, a low-budget detective noir mystery that featured hard-boiled dialogue and characters straight out of a 1940s novel, but took place in a modern high-school setting.
Johnson's followup to The Last Jedi, Knives Out, is shaping up to be a similarly unusual twist on an old-fashioned genre - in this case, a whodunit murder mystery. The film's cast is overflowing with talent by now and features Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many other name actors in noteworthy roles. The movie began shooting last October, but we've only now gotten confirmation of yet another substantial addition to the Knives Out ensemble.
Speaking at an SXSW event on Monday, Oz revealed that he's costarring in Knives Out and shot his role over the course of a mere two days. Clearly, the famed puppeteer and filmmaker only has a small part to play in the movie, but said that he accepted the role because he believes it's important for directors (like himself) to still get in front of the camera, every now and then. Here's the full quote from Oz, per IndieWire:
"He asked me to act in it and I said, ‘Are you out of your friggin’ mind?’ But he wanted me in there,” Oz said. “The reason I do those, and I believe every director should do this, is I need to know how frightening it is in front of a camera. And if I screw up, I can learn how to help when I direct an actor. Every director should get in front of the camera and see how frightening it is and how much the actors need you.”
Oz, of course, reprised his iconic puppeteer role as Yoda in The Last Jedi and clearly enjoyed his time collaborating with Johnson enough to work with the director again. While Oz is best known for having brought a variety of puppet characters to life on Sesame Street and the classic Muppet movies and TV shows (among other projects), he has appeared onscreen in-person a handful of times in the past. His live-action appearances have usually been quite brief, including his supporting turns in the '80s comedies Spies Like Us and Trading Places, and his small appearance in 1998's Blues Brothers 2000. He's mostly stuck to directing over the last two decades, which only makes his Knives Out role all the more notable.
As far as Knives Out goes, Oz's involvement is really just more icing on an already enticing cake. The movie's hotly anticipated by cinephiles at this stage and promises to be one of the most intriguing original projects scheduled to hit theaters this fall. Oz didn't offer any clues about his role in the movie at SXSW but, at this stage, it's nice not knowing a whole lot about Knives Out's mystery storyline and characters. As for the future: Johnson says he's still working on a new Star Wars movie, so who knows: he may yet find an excuse to get Oz to return to a galaxy far, far away once again.
- Knives Out (2019) release date: Nov 27, 2019