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Rian Johnson & Nastasha Lyonne Team Up For Upcoming Peacock Murder Mystery Series

Dec 19, 2022

Rian Johnson has a cinematic sensation on his hands with his “Knives Out” movie series. Both critics and audiences love the whodunit films and Daniel Craig‘s detective at their center, Benoit Blanc. But Johnson has murder mystery plans beyond the highly successful movie franchise, too. Enter “Poker Face,” Johnson’s upcoming series for Peacock, which stars Natasha Lyonne as the lead in a case-of-the-week detective show alá classic series like “Murder, She Wrote” or “Columbo.”
READ MORE: Rian Johnson Will Take On The Challenge Of The Third ‘Knives Out’ Next [Interview]
Johnson and Lyonne, the star of Netflix‘s time-loop dramedy “Russian Doll,” cooked up the idea for “Poker Face” at a book party thrown by Johnson’s wife, Karina Longworth. “I was thinking about what makes those shows tick and most of them are really kind of stealth hangout shows,” Johnson told Vanity Fair.  “They’re all anchored by an incredibly charismatic, unique personality…. When I saw “Russian Doll,” I just realized this persona and this presence and this magnetic charisma that’s so unique that Natasha has onscreen. I thought she could do this, she could be the keystone of a show like this.” In “Poker Face,” Lyonne plays Charlie, a laidback casino worker who ends up on the road all over America solving mysteries after the death of a close friend. Every episode sees Lyonne caught up in a new mystery, a new setting, and a new cast of characters.
And the cast Johnson culled for “Poker Face” is formidable. The show’s first episode alone also stars Benjamin Bratt, who recurs throughout the rest of the season, Dascha Polanco, and Adrien Brody. Throughout the rest of the first season, other actors include Hong Chau, Lil Rel Howery, Charles Melton, Ellen Barkin, Tim Meadows, Jameela Jamil, and Chloë Sevigny. Other cast members include Nick Nolte, Cherry Jones, and Luis Guzmán. Plus, frequent Rian Johnson collaborators like Joseph Gordon Levitt and Noah Segan show up too–all cast by Mary Vernieu and Bret Howe, Johnson’s regular casting directors. “It really is a gang’s all here type of thing for me, and that’s really what I love so much,” Lyonne said to VF. Johnson added, “The whole thing felt like a family affair. We really got an amazing group of folks.”
Despite superficial similarities to his “Knives Out” films, “Poker Face” is very much a separate beast from Johnson’s film franchise: a “howcatchem” rather than a whodunit. In short, Johnson wanted to make a show in the style of “Magnum P.I.” for contemporary TV audiences. “There’s a lot of reasons I like that format,” Johnson said about the genre he tackles in the series. “The big one is because I really love the idea of getting great guest stars for every episode, as opposed to the whodunit where you have to juggle five or six suspects to make it satisfying. I wanted to be able to create a real meal for actors to come in and feast on if they’re going to be the guest star.”  
The setting of the show frequently changes, too. The first episode takes place in small-town Nevada, but then Lyonne’s Charlie departs for other locations all over the USA. Most of the ten episodes of “Poker Face” Season One were shot in the Hudson Valley outside of New York City, but production also took place in New Mexico and Nevada. Johnson shares the load with direction, too. Other filmmakers involved in the series include “Zola” director Janicza Bravo, who shoots the first season’s finale. “I was looking to pull in directors who I felt like had really strong storytelling and visual sensibilities and kind of let them make a movie,” said Johnson. As he should, as this is Johnson’s first TV show, only directing a handful of “Breaking Bad” episodes previously.
Both Johnson and Lyonne hope audiences welcome Charlie as a TV detective for the streaming era. And despite the show’s often violent crimes, Lyonne praises the character’s warmth at the center of the new series. “Charlie lives in the sun,” Lyonne said of her character. “She has a basic belief in people’s underlying goodness. It’s not cynical.” And she and Johnson hope the show catches on Peacock so they can make further seasons. “We just had a blast making the show,” Johnson said. “If we’re allowed to keep going with this, it feels like something that could be endlessly fun to play with.”
Between “Poker Face” and the “Knives Out” franchise, it looks like Rian Johnson has a murder mystery genre under control. But will the new series take off like his movie series? Find out when “Poker Face” premieres on Peacock on January 26, when its first four episodes hit the streamer. The show’s remaining six episodes premiere weekly for the rest of its run. Check out first-look pics for the series below.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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