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Knives Out: who's who in Rian Johnson's murder mystery

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What makes a classic whodunnit? The ingredients are simple: take one wealthy murder victim, add a few sketchy characters with various motives and throw in some detectives charged with finding the killer.

Mix them all together and you get Knives Out, the new locked room mystery cum black comedy from director Rian Johnson, in which two investigators must solve the apparently impossible death of a wealthy patriarch.

As a film-maker, Johnson has proven he has a knack for writing and directing hit movies, whether they be low-budget thrillers (Brick), mind-bending sci-fi (Looper) or franchise gold (Star Wars: The Last Jedi). So his track record suggests Knives Out is going to be another smash hit.

If that wasn’t enough, it also boasts a cast featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest and most talented names. In a movie such as this, it can get difficult to keep track of everyone, so ahead of the film's release this November, here’s our handy guide to the stars of Knives Out and the characters they play.

Daniel Craig is Detective Benoit Blanc

In his first collaboration with Rian Johnson, Daniel Craig adopts a bemused and aloof air as no-nonsense investigator Benoit Blanc. He's the man tasked with cracking a head-scratching mystery and, if the trailer is anything to go by, takes great relish in his job.

The name Benoit Blanc is, according to Johnson, an homage to Agatha Christie's beloved creation Hercule Poirot. And, as he tells Empire, the comparisons don't stop there: "Benoit Blanc has some of the elements of Poirot, in that he’s a bit self-inflated, but there’s a warmth to him which shines through with Daniel."


LaKeith Stanfield is Detective Elliot

One of the most sought-after young actors working today, LaKeith Stanfield has swiftly built a formidable reputation off the back of Get Out, Sorry to Bother You and TV's Atlanta, created by Donald Glover. He pairs with Craig as fellow detective Elliot. 


Christopher Plummer is Harlan Thrombey

Following his Oscar-nominated turn in Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World (which made him the oldest actor ever to be nominated), Christopher Plummer is back on our screens as Harlan Thrombey.

Harlan is a successful mystery novelist and patriarch of the family in question. He’s rich and, surprise surprise, is our victim whose murder sets the whole chain of events into play. Who wanted him dead? Why? Was he hiding any secrets? We’ll have to find out.


Jamie Lee Curtis is Linda Drysdale

Being a baroness hasn’t slowed Jamie Lee Curtis's acting career at all (she's married to Sir Christopher Guest). Following her triumphant return as Laurie Strode in last year's horror hit Halloween, the versatile actress now takes on the role of Linda Drysdale (nee Thrombey).

Linda is the eldest daughter of the Thrombey family. A self-made woman, she runs a successful real estate firm alongside her husband, Richard. Of all Harlan’s children, she probably has the strongest emotional connection to him, but does that mean she wouldn’t stoop to murder?


Don Johnson is Richard Drysdale

Veteran film and TV actor Don Johnson, famous for his iconic roles in Miami Vice and Nash Bridges, takes the role of Richard Drysdale. Richard is married to Linda, Harlan’s oldest daughter and helps her to run her real estate business. Happy as he is, he knows Linda holds the power in the relationship, so could killing her father change all that?

Chris Evans is Ransom Drysdale

He may have just finished his seminal run as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but Chris Evans isn’t taking a break. In fact, he's already back in the saddle with his Knives Out role as Ransom Drysdale.

Ransom is the spoiled playboy son of Richard and Linda. The black sheep of the family, he’s never had to work a day in his life and is resented by the rest of the family. Could an inheritance from his grandad help fund his lavish lifestyle?


Michael Shannon is Walt Thrombey

He may be known for his dark and menacing characters in the likes of The Shape of Water, but Michael Shannon is playing against type here as Walt Thrombey. Walt is Linda’s youngest brother and Harlan’s youngest son. He's nowhere near as successful as his sister and feels a little bit inadequate – could murdering his father be the step to a whole new Walt?




Riki Lindhome is Donna Thrombey

Gifted comedian Riki Lindhome is right at home in an ensemble piece and will no doubt get to flex her considerable comedy muscle as Donna Thrombey. Donna is Walt’s extremely uptight wife, she’s frightened of a lot of things in the world, and so marriage to unadventurous Walt suits her. She’s very protective of her family and would do anything for them… does that include murder?

Toni Collette is Joni Thrombey

Another top talent in this ensemble, Toni Collette could be one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood today. How else does one explain her lack of an Oscar nomination for last year's sensational Hereditary?

Joni is Harlan’s daughter-in-law. She was married to another of Harlan’s sons who passed away and is a hippy-dippy west coast lifestyle guru with her own lifestyle company. Does she stand to gain her dead husband’s slice of the inheritance if Harlan dies?


Katherine Langford is Meg Thrombey

Her turn as a grown Morgan Stark may not have made the final cut of Avengers: Endgame. But Katherine Langford has already made a name for herself as a breakout star in the hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

In Knives Out she plays the role of Meg Thrombey, Joni’s daughter and Harlan’s granddaughter. She is an arts degree graduate, is strongly left-wing and is perpetually embarrassed by her mother. Could she really be capable of murder?


K Callan is Great Nana Thrombey

K Callan has been starring in television and movies since 1962, and here she plays Great Nanan Thrombey, Harlan Thrombey’s mother. No one knows how old she is and, although she is a constant family presence, she never says a word to anyone. Surely she’s too old and frail to commit this crime?

Ana de Armas is Marta

Cuban-Spanish actress Ana de Armas has recently been cast in Bond 25 alongside fellow Knives Out actor Daniel Craig, but first we’ll see her as Marta in this movie. Marta isn’t actually part of the Thrombey family but has been Harlan’s private nurse for many years, and they have grown very close. Did he leave her something in his will?

Knives Out is released on 29th November, so check out the trailer and let us know @Cineworld if it's on your must-see list.

Marvyn Wilson is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.