In an interview with Vanity Fair, Johnson revealed that he wrote “Glass Onion” as a bromide during COVID-19 lockdowns. He envisioned a distant, exotic location in his mind at a time when international travel was banned. The COVID news on screen in the final cut of “Glass Onion” was based on real anxiety. It also seemingly allowed Johnson to think of novel ways to film, and his murder mystery contained many notable cameos, all filmed separately, completely in keeping with social distancing measures. /Film previously wrote about how Angela Lansbury, Stephen Sondheim, Natasha Lyonne, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played a game of “Among Us” with Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), the film’s central detective.
For Ma’s cameo, it turns out he didn’t film his part until many months after the fact. On the commentary, Johnson described it thus:
“Yo-Yo Ma. He’s not here. I’m giving away the movie magic. Months and months after we shot this scene — Jess [Henwick] was looking off-screen there at nothing — Yo-Yo Ma came in and sat in front of a green screen and delivered his lines to a tennis ball on a C-stand, for Jess. What I’m saying is he did a fantastic job in a very high degree of difficulty; just walking onto a blue screen stage and delivering these lines.”
Ma’s lines are a little silly, of course. While he does identify the Bach tune in question, he also explains briefly what a fugue is, explaining that it is one melody layered over itself to create a new aural dynamic. His clue, perhaps weirdly, inspires Lionel to pull on the puzzle’s knob. The cameo is more fun than the clue.