Rian Johnson: ‘Poker Face’ Is More ‘How-Dunnit’ Than ‘Whodunnit’

Just as Knives Out was inspired by Agatha Christie mysteries, Johnson told IndieWire that his new show is an homage to classic detective shows like “The Rockford Files.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 10: (L-R) Karina Longworth and Rian Johnson attend the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Karina Longworth and Rian Johnson

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Hot on the heels of the success of “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” Rian Johnson continues to remind audiences that he’s the undisputed king of murder mysteries in Hollywood with the premiere of “Pokerface” this month. The Peacock series, which Johnson produced and directed several episodes of, is the case of the week, starring Natasha Lyonne as a private detective who can instantly tell when someone is lying. While Lyonne’s Charlie Cale will star, the series also boasts a killer lineup of celebrities including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adrien Brody, Chloë Sevigny, Jameela Jamil and Ron Perlman.

“The Onion” was a sly nod to the series, with Natasha Lyonne appearing as herself and playing “Among Us” with Benoit Blanc and notable mystery fans like Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But fans expecting “Poker Face” to simply be an episodic version of “Knives Out” should probably manage their expectations.

Speaking to IndieWire on the Golden Globes red carpet, Johnson offered fans some new details about the upcoming Peacock proceeding. While the series is still steeped in his love of murder mysteries, he says “Poker Face” will differentiate itself from the “Knives Out” franchise by replacing Agatha Christie’s novels with classic detective shows as its primary source of inspiration. Each episode will focus less on the identity of the killer and more on the capture process.

“Well, ‘Poker Face’ is a whole different business,” Johnson said. “It’s a bit more ‘how-to-dunnit’ or ‘how-to-catch-them.’ It’s kind of a throwback to ‘Magnum PI’, ‘Rockford Files’ or ‘Columbo’. And like Columbo, we introduce the murder in the first act. We show you who did it. And then Natasha Lyonne’s character finally catches them. So to me it’s a very different game than whodunnit. It’s kind of a throwback to the kind of TV I grew up on, that I love, the seven guest-star-driven, really fun-type one-hour shows.”

Lead actress Natasha Lyonne exclusively told IndieWire that her character Charlie has “the energy of Jeff Bridges ‘The Dude’ from ‘The Big Lebowski.’

The first four episodes of “Poker Face” begin streaming Thursday, Jan. 26 on the Peacock. After that, new episodes will be released weekly.

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