Rick Heinrichs interview: ‘Glass Onion’ production designer

When production designer Rick Heinrichs joined “Glass Onion,” he knew exactly where to begin his research for the titular dome atop tech billionaire Miles Bron’s (Edward Norton) Grecian estate in Rian Johnson’s murder mystery sequel. “I took an onion out of the fridge literally and started to cut the layers,” he tells Gold Derby (watch above). And what did the Oscar winner learn?

“That you cry when you cut into them,” Henrich quips. “ realized how structural it all was and how thick the layers were. And in the scale of the dome that we ended up using for ‘Glass Onion,’ I could see, just by cutting it, how I wanted to deal with the front face, the side that you first see the onion dome at. It was very inspirational, and I feel like no one’s made that exact glass onion dome before, so I felt very good about that.”

While the exterior of the dome was added via VFX on top of the real Villa 20 at Amanzoe in Porto Heli, Greece, the interior — Miles’ office — was built on a soundstage in Belgrade. In keeping with the film’s glass onion metaphor and things hiding in plain sight, the space featured clear furniture and lots of empty spaces — not unlike Miles’ empty ideas and vapid personality.

SEE Janelle Monae on the many layers to Andi in ‘Glass Onion’

“It’s quite a task to [have] the job of creating the most vapid set imaginable. I grabbed hold of that and took it as far as I could,” Henrichs says. “[The furniture] just needed to feel organic to what the whole concept of a glass onion is. And of course, that is probably as far I imagined Miles’ imagination would go — certainly not his bank account. He could’ve afforded a lot more if he wanted to. … It just felt like somebody who was above it all and almost a little bit of a god himself would plant himself on top of this.”

The other part of Miles’ narcissistic personality is captured in the atrium, where the bulk of the action takes place. While the Glass Onion is pretty sparse, the atrium is a chaotic melting pot of garish, ostentatious designs, color and artwork, including a shirtless painting of Miles himself. Heinrichs, who previously worked with Johnson on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017), wanted the spacious area, which includes a long dining table and a pit with couches, to be “emblematic of what’s going on in his head” — you know, the one that came up with Klear, his hydrogen-based alternative fuel.

“Sure, it’s empty, but at the same time, the neurons are firing at all directions at the same time. It was playing a bit with that duality of the emptiness and the extravagant over-energy and abundance,” Heinrichs explains. “It’s an explosion of color and art and extravagant living. The office of the Glass Onion itself feels a little bit more like a temple in a way, partly because of the way it’s set up to begin with and partly the simplicity and almost holiness of the place feels very much like something Miles, with his faux mysticism, would build for himself.”

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UPLOADED Jan 12, 2023 3:19 pm