Saltburn director reveals alternative ending for Barry Keoghan's character

2 January 2024, 17:46

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Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith

In the original Saltburn script, Oliver never actually danced through the halls of the house naked...

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Saltburn's final scene? With a fully nude Barry Keoghan dancing to 'Murder on the Dancefloor'? That's cinema! But did you know that it wasn't actually in the original script?

After dropping on Prime Video over the holiday period, Saltburn has quickly become a hot topic of conversation thanks to its graphic scenes, colourful characters and subtle details that viewers are dissecting at every turn.

The film's ending (yes, that really was Barry Keoghan completely naked...) has also gone viral, with Sophie Ellis-Bextor's pop banger shooting up the charts, and TikTok users attempting to recreate Oliver's dance in their own homes (with clothes on, obviously).

Director and writer Emerald Fennell has now revealed that she initially had a completely different ending in mind – one that didn't require Barry Keoghan to strip at all.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Saltburn's ending!

Saltburn had an alternative ending that didn't feature Oliver's nude dance
Saltburn had an alternative ending that didn't feature Oliver's nude dance. Picture: Prime Video

In Saltburn's final scene, viewers watch as a naked Oliver dances through the halls and rooms of the stately home as 'Murder on the Dancefloor' plays overhead. He's successfully wormed his way into Catton family, got rid of everyone in his way and is now lord of the manor.

In the original version of the script, the film ends with Oliver walking through the manor on his way to breakfast where he is served runny eggs by butler Duncan, calling back to the breakfast scene earlier in the film where he sent his runny eggs back to the kitchen.

Explaining why that ending was scrapped and replaced by Oliver's nude dance party, Emerald Fennell explained to Entertainment Weekly: "A walkthrough didn't have that post-coital triumph. If we all did our job correctly, you are on Oliver's side."

"You don't care what he does, you want him to do it. You are both completely repulsed and sort of on his side. It's that kind of dance with the devil. It's like, 'F---. Okay, let's go.' And so at the end, it needed to have a triumph, a post-coital win, a desecration," she continued.

Barry Keoghan's Oliver had a very different ending in the original Saltburn script
Barry Keoghan's Oliver had a very different ending in the original Saltburn script. Picture: Prime Video

While Barry was clearly game to take on the scene, he did share some hesitations before hand about being completely naked.

"The initial thing was about me having no clothes on. I’m a bit, ehhh," he said. "But after take one, I was ready to go. I was like, 'Let’s go again. Let’s go again.' You kind of forget, because there’s such a comfortable environment created, and it gives you that license to go, 'All right, this is about the story now.'"

He added that the new ending "felt totally right", saying: "It’s ownership. This is my place. It’s full confidence in, 'I can do what I want in this manor. I can strip to my barest and waltz around because this is mine.' Yeah… it was fun."

In the end, they filmed the entire scene (which is one continuous shot) 11 times. Emerald Fennell said that the seventh take was "technically perfect," but Barry ended up filming another 4 more takes so he could nail the "absolutely devilish joy" she was looking for for Oliver's final moment on screen.

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