Is Daniel Craig Just Doing a Foghorn Leghorn Impersonation in the ‘Knives Out’ Movies?: An Investigation
Like its predecessor, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery features plenty of twists and turns that its main character, Beniot Blanc, a loquacious private eye who speaks with a thick, syrupy Southern accent and is known as “The Last of the Gentlemen Sleuths,” must solve. But off-screen there’s another major mystery to solve as well: Is Daniel Craig, the very British man behind that thick, syrupy Southern accent, just impersonating the voice of the giant cartoon rooster Foghorn Leghorn?
There’s plenty of evidence to back up this theory. For starters, in the original 2019 film, Chris Evans’ character makes the comparison outright, telling Blanc, “Shut up with that Kentucky-fried Foghorn Leghorn drawl!” To say nothing of Blanc’s last name — the original voice behind Foghorn Leghorn, of course, was the legendary Mel Blanc, who voiced nearly every other Looney Tunes character, too. Speculation about it can also be found all over Reddit, and it was referenced in at least a couple of reviews of the film. Not to mention, there was even a funny SNL sketch about it.
In fairness, Knives Out writer/director Rian Johnson has denied all of these claims, explaining on the SlashFilm podcast that he gave the character a Southern accent in order to make him a fish-out-of-water to the New England family he was investigating. As for the last name, he thought that “Blanc” was easy for Americans to mispronounce, much like the character Blanc was inspired by — Agatha Christie’s super sleuth Hercule Poirot. To put an even finer point on it, when asked directly if “Blanc” was a reference to Mel Blanc, Johnson responded bluntly, “No, I never even thought of that.”
For his part, Craig explained during a Q&A for the film that historian Shelby Foote, who spoke with a thick Mississippi accent, was his actual inspiration for the character. And if you listen to a clip of Foote, it does sound a great deal like Benoit Blanc:
With both Johnson and Craig on the record, it would seem to be a pretty open-and-shut case. Or is it? Might it be possible that one or both of these men could have something to hide? After all, it sounds much better to have your character based on a highly respected dead historian as opposed to a loudmouth cartoon chicken who likes to slap dogs on their asses. If you ask me, if Benoit Blanc were based on Foghorn Leghorn, there’d be plenty of motive to disguise the truth. And so, I decided to consult a true expert on the matter — Jeff Bergman.
Bergman doesn’t study dialects or body language or anything like that. His skill set is far more impressive and relevant to this query: He took over the duties of voicing Foghorn Leghorn after Mel Blanc’s death and has played him many times since. His verdict: “I don’t think he is doing a Foghorn impression. It’s just fun to hear an Englishman do a Southern accent. Plus, I remember hearing several English actors say it’s easy for them to do a Southern American accent because it’s easier for them to hear.”
It’s safe to say then that, in Benoit Blanc terms, we’ve officially filled the doughnut hole at the center of our case, and that this breakfast pastry has nothing to do with super-sized poultry at all.