In an interview with ET, Rian Johnson revealed the sneaky way he got Gordon-Levitt, who he first directed in the acclaimed 2005 thriller Brick, a small part in Glass Onion. While on the set of the new Peacock series Poker Face, Johnson asked Gordon-Levitt to do him a favor.
“I just said, ‘You have to trust me, say the word ‘dong’ really loudly,’” Johnson recalled.
In the movie, there’s a running gag where its central location — a lavish, high-tech mansion on a remote Greek island — dings with an audible “Hourly dong!” every hour. In his chat with ET, Johnson reveals Gordon-Levitt as its voice and says it’s an homage to one of his favorite movies.
“That’s a reference to one of my favorite mystery movies, Evil Under the Sun, there’s a big [plot point] in it with the ‘noonday gun,’ and they shoot a canon off at noon every day,” he said.
According to Johnson, Gordon-Levitt apparently misunderstood his directions. “In the script, it’s written as, I think, the ‘hourly gong,’” Johnson said. “[Joseph] said it wrong and said the ‘hourly dong.’ And I said, ‘That’s it, it’s the hourly dong now.’”
Since working together on Brick, a noir mystery set in a California high school, Johnson and Gordon-Levitt have remained friends and collaborators, with Gordon-Levitt getting at least a tiny role in all of Johnson’s movies. Besides also starring in his 2012 time travel action movie Looper, Gordon-Levitt had a cameo in Johnson’s 2008 comedy The Brothers Bloom, and a minor speaking role as an alien with a Texas drawl in 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
In 2019’s Knives Out, Gordon-Levitt appeared via voice-over, playing a TV detective whose voice is heard through a laptop early in the movie. Glass Onion not only continues Johnson’s tradition of having Gordon-Levitt in his movies, but its franchise’s own tradition of making sure you never see Gordon-Levitt’s face. So keep your ears open whenever Knives Out 3 rolls around.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery will stream on Netflix on December 23.