Mixed Asian Media: JoySauce is proud to present something very special—a partnership with the ultra talented team over at Mixed Asian Media. In JoySauce’s mission to cover stories from the Asian American and Pacific Islander diaspora, we’ve always considered it incredibly important to include mixed AA+PI perspectives. Since their team already has that piece on lock, we’re delighted they were willing to join forces to help us share even more fresh, funny, interesting, irreverent stories each week. Take it away, MAM!
We at Mixed Asian Media are huge fans of Jessica Henwick. Have been since her initial interview with us in 2020 on being the mixed Asian franchise queen. Henwick has been a wonderful supporter of MAM throughout the years, so when the opportunity arose to interview this talented, kind, and generous fave, we had to say yes! She just so happens to be in the hilarious murder mystery film Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, directed by Rian Johnson. This sequel, dare I say, might be better than the first. Henwick plays Peg, assistant to glamorous celebrity Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), and they are reunited with old friends (played by a host of your favorite celebrities) for another mystery to be solved by the great Southern sleuth Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). See what Henwick had to say about working on the film, but without revealing any spoilers because…don’t you want to find out for yourself who gets murdered and who the murderer is?
Did you watch the first Knives Out film? What drew you to this one?
I did. I watched the first one in the cinema when it first came out at Thanksgiving. I was obsessed. I knew nothing going into it, and I sat down in the front row. For the first two minutes I was very confused and thought, “Oh my gosh, what am I about to watch? Am I about to watch a car crash?” (I probably shouldn’t say that.) Soon past the two minute mark, I realized, “No, Daniel Craig is a genius. This is a genius accent. What a brilliant performance.” I think that Benoit will go down as one of the best detectives of all time. So yeah, I loved the original.
You play Peg, Birdie Jay’s smart assistant, who is always trying to keep her out of trouble with the media. Do you think Peg falls into the stereotype of “sidekick Asian character,” or does she break that stereotype?
Is that a stereotype, sidekick Asian? Oh, I guess, yeah. I don't think she falls into any Asian stereotypes.
When I approached it, I didn’t really look at her from career outwards. I didn’t start with her being an assistant. I think it’s really clear in the film that her relationship goes so far beyond her work. Birdie Jay and Peg have this really codependent, toxic love-hate relationship.
They’re kind of like an old married couple, which I don’t think we get to see on screen very often between two women, let alone an Asian woman and another woman. But I think that there’s so much meat to that relationship. I’ve been saying Birdie Jay can’t live without Peg, and Peg is the only person who could possibly live with Birdie Jay. It’s such a fascinating dynamic, and getting to work with Kate and play that was wonderful.
Do you think you have any similarities to your character?
Similarities to Peg? I mean, there were definitely times on set where I was like, “I’m the most normal actor here,” and I don’t even think the rest of the cast would be mad at me for saying that.
In the film, it’s an island of millionaires and celebrities, and there were definitely times when I had imposter syndrome filming this. Like, what am I doing here? I’m not famous enough to be in this cast. I think that was also just Peg seeping into my subconscious.
How did you handle the imposter syndrome?
It’s hard. I mean, recognizing is the first step and trying to remove your ego from it. If you’ve seen any of Rian’s films, he's a genius, and he wouldn’t have bought me there unless he actually wanted me to be there.
So I just tried to give myself some affirmation, acknowledged the feeling, and let it go. And then when I was acting, I would just use it so it was great.
What was your favorite scene to film?
My favorite scene to film…it’s a toss-up. There’s a scene at the end, which is sort of the buildup of two months of filming, and we shot it at the end of the two months. It was so much fun, but it’s really hard to discuss, so I’m gonna say another scene. There’s a scene between myself and Kate [Hudson], and we’re in a bedroom, and it’s kind of where you see behind the facade of Birdie Jay and you get to the heart of her. Peg is the one who can show you that. I don’t think she opens up like that to many people.
It was nice to get to do it in my audition and then obviously see how Kate was gonna do it in real life.
I love that. I also love Greece! What was your favorite part of filming on a Greek island?
Riding around on ATVs between takes, which we weren’t meant to do because of insurance, and we definitely didn’t do that. No, we were so spoiled. It felt like a holiday and yeah, no complaints. Greece is a beautiful, beautiful place.
You were immersed in such a plethora of amazing comedic actors. Who was the funniest person on set?
Kathryn Hahn, I mean, obviously the script is perfectly written for her and is hilarious, but she has such a great sense of physical comedy that she could turn nothing into a joke. She could just be standing there and somehow she would find a way to make it funny.
Glass Onion streams on Netflix starting Dec. 23.
Published on December 14, 2022
Art by Ryan Quan
Ryan Quan is the Social Media Editor for JoySauce. This queer, half-Chinese, half-Filipino writer and graphic designer loves everything related to music, creative nonfiction, and art. Based in Brooklyn, he spends most of his time dancing to hyperpop and accidentally falling asleep on the subway. Follow him on Instagram at @ryanquans.