The ending to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman left just about everyone pondering, “Wait, what exactly happened?” But it would have been even more perplexing had an alternate ending made its way into the final script.
During an appearance on “The Q& A with Jeff Goldsmith,” the film’s writer, Alex Dinelaris, was asked if there was ever another ending to his Oscar-nominated screenplay. There was, and it featured Johnny Depp. In Dinelaris’ words:
“The other ending was that (Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson) shoots himself on the stage, the camera comes around to the audience and their standing ovation … and the segue way was back onto the stage, and onto the stage was James Lipton or Charlie Rose, and Michael was sitting across from him. And he’s sort of reading the review and saying, ‘Oh my God, you got this tremendous review,’ and Michael is like, ‘Yeah’ and very little on it.”
“And then the camera prowled like it did the whole film, went backstage 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, 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, (the poster read:) ‘What the f— are we doing here, mate?’ and it was going to be the satire of the endless loop of that.”
Dinelaris joked that the idea was conceived while he and the writers crew “were wasted.” But then he offered up a legitimate reason as to why Iñárritu went a different way on it.
“We got back to the initial question … which is how are we going to make (Thomson) silencing the voice both surprising and inevitable. In the end, Alejandro didn’t want to answer the question as to whether or not you can silence that voice or what your ultimate ending was, ’cause he thought it would make the film small,” he explained. “So he was very passionate about saying, ‘I would like to leave that in the hearts and minds of the audience and not in mine, because whatever I say then limits the answer to one possibility,’ and he didn’t want to do that.”
That’s cool and all, but would Depp even had wanted to make fun becoming the anti-Keaton, cashing in the franchise chips? Here’s hoping that whenever the fifth Pirates movie comes out, the poster Dinelaris imagined becomes reality, even on its way to the inevitable $1 billion box-office earnings.