Get Out is surely one of the biggest success stories of the last few years, and the fact that it was wholly unexpected makes it all the more exciting. This is a Blumhouse horror movie with no “movie stars,” marking the directorial debut of comedian Jordan Peele. Not only did it receive rave reviews and gross over $255 million worldwide, it made the long trek to the awards race following a February release date and came away with four Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay. That’s kind of stunning.
While Peele’s social thriller leaves the audience on a relatively high note, the film’s original ending was far darker. It’s here where if you haven’t yet seen Get Out, you should stop reading. Spoilers ahead.
At the end of Get Out, a cop car pulls up just as Chris is strangling Rose with a house full of dead white people behind him. But we see that this isn’t just any ordinary cop, it’s Rod (Lil Rey Howery), who has come to Chris’s rescue. The audience breathes a sigh of relief, and all’s well that ends well (again, relatively).
This ending, however, was part of a reshoot. The original ending was far more realistic, as the actual cops showed up and Chris went to jail. As part of Vulture’s fantastic oral history of how Get Out got made (via The Playlist), Peele, stars Daniel Kaluuya, Bradley Whitford, Marcus Henderson, and producer Sean McKittrick broke down how and why the ending changed:
McKittrick: We tested the movie with the original “sad truth” ending where, when the cop shows up, it’s an actual cop and Chris goes to jail. The audience was absolutely loving it, and then it was like we punched everybody in the gut. You could feel the air being sucked out of the room. The country was different. We weren’t in the Obama era, we were in this new world where all the racism crept out from under the rocks again. It was always an ending that we debated back and forth, so we decided to go back and shoot the pieces for the other ending where Chris wins.
Henderson: I remember when they gave the verdict that Darren Wilson wouldn’t be indicted, and you felt defeated. Like, “Man! Can we catch a break?” What the original ending said was, “No, you can’t catch a break,” because that’s our reality. But the new ending gave us a break, and I think that’s why we enjoyed it so much, because we want it so badly. The similarities of the narrative are so parallel to what actually happened in Ferguson. When I have conversations with people about it, we talk about the importance of watching that black body get away to tell his story. Because you know who didn’t get to tell their own story? Trayvon Martin. Mike Brown. Philando Castile.
Kaluuya: I love the original ending. It was great because of what it said about life — there’s this black guy who’s really cool and went through this trauma, got through all this racism, and in fighting for himself he gets incarcerated. That really resonated with me, because it showed me how unfair the system is. However, in hindsight, you still have that with the police lights, and Rod saves him through the black brotherhood — and also, Chris has a life, you know? He has to go out there even after he’s experienced all this racism, and people expect you to see the world in the same way when they haven’t experienced something like that. I thought that was really honest.
Whitford: The original ending was making a statement that I think Jordan felt a white audience might be able to dismiss about mass incarceration. The ending he ended up with does a brilliant thing, because when Chris is strangling Rose in the driveway, you see the red police lights, and then you see the door open and it says “Airport” and it’s a huge laugh, and everybody has that same laugh and release. You understand from Chris’s POV that if the cops come, he’s a dead man. That is absolutely brilliant, non-lecturing storytelling.
Peele: I think my improv training just put me in this mind frame of, with each problem, there’s not one solution, there’s not two solutions, there’s an infinite amount of great solutions. That includes the ending. When I realized the original, downer ending wasn’t working, I didn’t freak out. I looked at it as an opportunity to come up with a better ending.