If you were one of the millions of moviegoers who got to see Get Out by comedian-turned-director Jordan Peele, then you already know how the movie ended. But it is not unusual to make changes to a film script before its release and Peele’s movie was no different. After testing the original conclusion, The director accepted the challenge to go in a different direction. (Warning: If you are waiting to watch the Oscar-nominated film on HBO, you might want to stop reading this right now.)
If art always imitated life, then after Chris had murdered his White girlfriend Rose’s family and was caught by police strangling her, he would have gone directly to jail. This was how the plot was originally written.
The problem was that when focus groups watched the first version, they were overwhelmingly deflated. Considering the racial landscape of a Trump America, this ending was as depressing and commonplace as the nightly news. Peele decided to go back to the drawing board and find a way to set Chris free. He explained his thought process in a group interview with VULTURE and the cast and crew of Get Out.
“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,” Peele told VULTURE. “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.”
Cast members chimed in on the genius move that Peele made in coming up with the alternate ending. When the police car arrived with the flashing lights, the audience felt that sense of dread of what would happen next. Chris had survived a bizarre, over-the-top case of racism which nearly resulted in the transplant of a blind man’s brain into his body. It appeared that he would now have to go to jail.
But Peele decided that the officer would instead be Chris’ comical best friend Rod, a Black man who works for TSA. Bradley Whitford, who played Rose’s father Dean, explained how the way we see young Black men treated by police in everyday life laid the groundwork for the major sigh of relief that was the new ending.
“The original ending was making a statement that I think Jordan felt a White audience might be able to dismiss about mass incarceration,” Whitford said. “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.”
Daniel Kaluuya, who played Chris, talked about how both endings really spoke to him as a Black man. His character’s situation was caught between a rock and a hard place because Chris was forced to save his own life only to be faced with the possibility of life in prison or worse.
“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,” Kaluuya said.
“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.”