Is Knives Out’s Benoit Blanc Inspired by a Real Detective?

Image Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Rian Johnson’s murder mystery filmKnives Out’ is one of the most entertaining films of recent years. Starring Daniel Craig as the flamboyant Benoit Blanc, the 2019 film revolves around the detective’s efforts to solve the murder of the renowned novelist Harlan Thrombey. Using his peculiar ways and methods, Blanc astounds Harlan’s family by revealing the killer. In the 2022 film ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,’ Blanc sets out to investigate the death of Cassandra “Andi” Brand, the famed CEO of a tech company. Since Blanc possesses a certain sense of individuality, the viewers must be wondering whether his unique characteristics belong to a real-life detective. Well, here’s what we can share about the same!

Benoit Blanc is a Fictional Character

Benoit Blanc is not based on a real detective. The character was conceived by Rian Johnson, who wrote and directed the ‘Knives Out’ films. However, Johnson was heavily inspired by Agatha Christie’s globally-renowned detective character Hercule Poirot to conceive Blanc. “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,” Johnson made it clear in an interview given to Empire. Poirot, possibly one of the two most popular detective characters along with Sherlock Holmes, does possess certain quirks and eccentricity, which are the signature features of Blanc in the films.

Johnson’s obsession with Poirot was (too much) evident in the early drafts of ‘Knives Out.’ “I love the character of Poirot so much and I ended up just creating a version that was just a bunch of crazy quirks. Finally, I said, ‘You know what, I have to take the same approach to writing a detective as I am to the movie itself, and think about the dramatic purpose of the character,’” Johnson told EW. The realization that he needs to create a Poirot that doesn’t end up being an imitation of the celebrated character was the real genesis point of Benoit Blanc.

Johnson then removed the obvious eccentricities from the early Blanc to make him more original. “I stepped back, I stripped all the eccentricities out, I gave him a Southern accent — figuring it’d help him be a fish out of water amongst these New England WASPs — and I wrote the character on the page with a voice, with a slight sense of self-importance. He likes the sound of his own voice,” Johnson added to EW. Although it was Johnson who conceived the character, it is fair to say that it is Craig who perfected it.

Image Credit: John Wilson/Netflix

Craig and Johnson had Peter Ustinov’s performance as Poirot in the 1970s and 80s films such as ‘Death on the Nile,’ ‘Evil Under the Sun,’ ‘Appointment with Death,’ etc. as a reference point. “I was thinking about the Agatha Christie movies that had Peter Ustinov as Poirot when I was writing this,” Johnson added to Empire. Along with the director, Craig was also familiar with Ustinov’s films to deliver what Johnson wanted as Blanc. “I talked to him about Peter Ustinov’s performance as Poirot — the essential clownishness that he found in the character while still keeping him grounded,” the director added to EW.

There are several features or characteristics of Blanc that were created only because Johnson walked away from Christie’s Poirot. In the Poirot novels, his sexuality doesn’t come up at all. However, Johnson is clear about who his detective character is. The director had revealed that Blanc is queer, making him one of the few queer detectives in the mediums of films and literature. The director was also reportedly inspired by several other detective or mystery films, such as ‘Gosford Park,’ ‘The Private Eyes,’ ‘The Last of Sheila,’ etc. Still, Benoit Blanc is more or less a modern version of Hercule Poirot.

Read More: Where Was Glass Onion A Knives Out Mystery Filmed?