Edward Norton’s Glass Onion character, Miles Bron, was heavily influenced by Tom Cruise’s award-winning performance of Frank Mackey from Magnolia.
By Jonathan Klotz | Published
Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is currently the streamer’s top program, following up on the surprise success of the first Knives Out, pitting Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc up against another murder mystery. As reported by Slash Film, Edward Norton’s smarmy technologist purposely plays off of Tom Cruise’s most disgusting character. No, not Tropic Thunder’s Les Grossman, instead it’s Frank Mackey from Magnolia. The creepy, misogynistic motivational speaker preyed on the dreams of others, profiting from despair, both features that Norton brings to his portrayal of Miles Bron.
Edward Norton’s Miles Bron, and Tom Cruise’s Frank Mackey, both start their respective movies as obvious slimeballs, pointed out to cinephiles in the choice to dress Norton in the same outfit worn by Cruise. During the Glass Onion flashback, Bron is wearing the same leather vest and long-sleeved t-shirt that Mackey wears during his time on stage in Magnolia, encouraging men to give into their base instincts in an effort to get laid. While viewers don’t need a clear visual “tell” to clue them into the true nature of Norton’s character, it’s a cool shout-out to one of the actor’s influences in bringing Bron to life.
Joining Edward Norton in Glass Onion, a star-studded ensemble similar to Tom Cruise’s Magnolia, is Daniel Craig, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, Dave Bautista, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, with cameos by Ethan Hawke, Karem Abdul-Jabber, and the late Angela Lansbury. Magnolia starred William H. Macy, John C. Reily, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Patton Oswalt, Felicity Huffman, Luis Guzman, and Alfred Molina. To say that each film has a packed cast is an understatement, though while Norton has played sleazy characters in the past, being a bad guy is unusual for Cruise; Collateral was even marketed on how rarely he plays a villain.
While Edward Norton’s Glass Onion performance preys on the hopes and dreams of others in the most underhanded way possible, Tom Cruise’s turn in Magnolia ended with the character achieving redemption. Norton’s Bron does not go that way, instead continually exhibiting the worst aspects of tech bro culture, exhibiting the ability to work a room like Elon Musk while finding the smallest bit of leverage he can hold over others. It’s clear from the start that the other characters don’t even like Bron, despite being indebted to him in one way or another, though over the course of the film, each is revealed to be just as slimy and self-serving in their own way.
Edward Norton never gets to lead a vile, expletive-filled chant like Tom Cruise does, but specifically, his interactions with Dave Bautista’s men’s rights activist character, Duke Cody, echo Mackey’s style. An accomplished method actor, it is no wonder that Norton decided to base his Glass Onion character on Cruise’s Mackey and Elon Musk, the former was a Golden Globe-winning performance for Best Supporting Actor, while the latter is one of the richest men in the world. Fans can catch Norton’s performance, alongside Daniel Craig’s second outing as private investigator Benoit Blanc, in The Glass Onion, currently streaming on Netflix.
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