Apple Doesn't Let Movie Bad Guys Use iPhones, Director Rian Johnson Reveals

How do you know if a movie character is really a villain? According to one top Hollywood director, there's at least one major sign: they won't be seen holding an iPhone.

Speaking in a video interview with Vanity Fair about his latest Oscar-nominated movie Knives Out, director Rian Johnson referenced the long-rumored speculation that the technology used by a character may actually expose their true colors—even in a murder-mystery flick.

"Another funny thing, I don't know if I should say this or not... not cause it's like lascivious or something, but because it's going to screw me on the next mystery movie that I write, but forget it, I'll say it. It's very interesting," Johnson said.

"Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies but—and this is very pivotal if you're ever watching a mystery movie—bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera. So oh no, every single filmmaker that has a bad guy in their movie that's supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now."

He was discussing a scene that featured actor Jamie Lee Curtis holding a cell phone—not your typical spoiler. In the movie, character motives are intended to be murky, with the plot based around the investigation of a crime novelist's death, with multiple twists on the classic "whodunit" formula.

Since the interview went live, the director's comments have been widely discussed on internet forums, including Reddit page r/movies, which is dedicated to film discussion.

"Kind of ruins the movie if everyone in the movie is using an iPhone, except the butler, he has a BlackBerry, so he's definitely the murderer," one person commented.

Another reply, seemingly from an industry insider, chimed in: "I work full time in film, and can confirm this. Microsoft is a little more easy going. However, this is more common than you think. Apple is just one of the higher profile companies that don't allow stuff like this."

As reported by MacRumors, Apple enforces pretty strict rules about its devices being used in movie product placement. In the company's own guidelines for trademarks and copyrights, which are published online, it stresses that its high-end technology must only be "shown only in the best light, in a manner or context that reflects favorably on the Apple products and on Apple Inc."

Not everyone was surprised by Johnson's glimpse behind-the-curtain, with many noting a trope previously found in the action series 24 was that baddies used Windows computers and the heros were always seen to be using Macs, as was reported by Wired magazine way back in 2002.

Last March, The New York Times reported Apple executives had expressed concerns over how its own products would be used in TV shows being released via its own streaming platform.

Apple has been contacted for comment.