With it having racked up nearly $60 million worldwide thus far and now being available on VOD, those who’ve wanted to see Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Birdman have probably taken the opportunity. Proceeding with spoilers for the film, it’s clear from the first scenes that themes of creative exhaustion in Hollywood abound throughout. While its current ending has proven to be something of a discussion point, there was an original one that was far different, pushing these themes further. Gathering for Jeff Goldsmith‘s annual discussion with Oscar-nominated scribes, Birdman‘s Alex Dinelaris revealed this early iteration, which was never shot but was intended to include one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
“So we had one other ending that was satirical,” says Alex Dinelaris. “The other ending was that he shoots himself on the stage. The camera comes around to the audience and their standing ovation — all the way around, like Chivo [Emmanuel Lubezki] and Alejandro did the whole time — and the segue was back on to the stage and on the stage was like James Lipton or Charlie Rose and Michael [Keaton] was sitting across from him and he’s sort of reading the review. He’s saying, ‘Oh my God, you got this tremendous review’ and Michael is like, ‘Yeah.'”
Adding that they would brush past that, he goes on to say, “then the camera prowled like it did the whole film, went back stage through the halls we’ve seen the whole time and we’d get to the dressing room where literally Johnny Depp would be sitting looking in the mirror and putting on his Riggan Thomson wig and then the poster of Pirates of the Caribbean 5 would be in the back. In Jack Sparrow’s voice [it would say], ‘What the fuck are we doing here, mate?’ It was going to be the satire of the endless loop of that.” Dinelaris concludes with a laugh, “We couldn’t get Johnny Depp or even the poster.”
While we couldn’t imagine Disney would have ever agreed to this, it certainly would have been a perfect capper, despite taking away from Thomson’s conclusion, however ambiguous it was. For diving into much more about the film and others from this season, you should listen to the full 1.5-hour conversation below (or on iTunes), which features Jason Hall (American Sniper), Dinelaris (Birdman), E. Max Frye (Foxcatcher), Graham Moore (The Imitation Game), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash):
What do you think of the original ending and the full conversation?