Warning: This post contains some mild spoilers for a scene in Glass Onion that happens very early on and has already been widely reported.
On top of its copious twists and semi-accidental topicality, Glass Onion (we’ll leave off that subtitle that’s not even in the film itself) also boasts some genuinely decent cameos (plus one that’s not exactly a cameo). Some of them happen very early on, before most of the cast is sequestered to a far flung Mediterranean island. One of them is no less than Angela Lansbury, who appears as herself as part of a group Zoom call with Daniel Craig’s bathtub-bound Benoit Blanc. It’s a great, bittersweet get, especially considering the stage and screen legend passed away mere months before its release. But if you think the moment captured the real Lansbury, turns out she was just acting.
In a new piece by The New York Times, writer-director Rian Johnson revealed how he nabbed Lansbury and what it was like working with her on what would turn out to be her final (albeit very brief) screen performance. In the scene, she and a group — which also features the august trio of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Natasha Lyonne, and Stephen Sondheim — whiling away the quarantine era of the pandemic by playing the online mystery game Among Us.
“She couldn’t have been lovelier and more generous,” Johnson recalled, before adding, for posterity, “Not a gamer.” Johnson said she was “very patient” as he laboriously described how the game worked, at least “up to a point.” When she reached that point, Johnson remembered, “she just said, ‘You know what? Just tell me what the lines are. I’ll trust you.’”
The fact that Lansbury can be seen on a Zoom call with Sondheim is no accident: Lansbury played the conspirator Mrs. Lovett in the original Broadway production of Sondheim’s grisly Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Like Lansbury, Sondheim also made his final screen appearance in Glass Onion, and getting him was no easy feat, until it proved incredibly simple.
“I wasn’t really sure how to get to him,” Johnson’s producing partner Ram Bergman told NYT. “But then I was on a call with Bryan Lourd, our agent, and it somehow came up. I said, we really would love Stephen to do this. And I swear, five minutes later, he emailed me: he’s going to do it.” In fact, once they got Sondheim, he hooked them up with Lansbury.
The call itself was, alas, not real. For Lansbury, Johnson recorded it himself, at her home in Los Angeles, using his personal computer. But movies are magic, and so you can imagine that Daniel Craig really did Zoom chat with four legends at the same time, while in the bath tub.
Glass Onion can now be streamed on Netflix.