Barry Keoghan, the talented actor known for his roles in acclaimed films, is shedding light on the exultant ending of Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, which involves him removing his clothes. As the film gains more viewership through its availability on Amazon’s Prime Video, many are curious about the genesis of its unforgettable ending. In a recent interview, the director revealed that the initial version of the ending did not involve Keoghan’s character, Oliver, dancing energetically around the manor in the nude. Instead, the original script depicted Oliver on his way to breakfast, where he would be served runny eggs by the butler, creating a callback to an earlier scene.
According to Keoghan, the initial closing scene lacked the post-coital triumph that ultimately made the ending so memorable. Fennell echoed this sentiment in a November interview, stating, “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.”
Ultimately, the final scene of Saltburn showcases Oliver reveling in his freedom as he dances uninhibitedly around Saltburn, liberated from societal norms and expectations. This scene is accompanied by the infectious beat of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s chart-topping hit, “Murder on the Dance Floor.” When Keoghan was presented with the idea for this bold ending, he didn’t hesitate to embrace the challenge. In his words, “It totally felt right. 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.”
While Keoghan was enthusiastic about the scene, filming it presented its own set of challenges. Without clothes and exposed, he initially experienced some hesitation. He confessed, “The initial thing was about me having no clothes on. I’m a bit, ehhh. 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, ‘Alright, this is about the story now.'”
During the filming of the scene, Fennell aimed to capture Oliver’s devilish joy and mischief. She revealed that they shot the scene 11 times, but it wasn’t until the seventh take that it achieved technical perfection. However, perfection alone did not satisfy Fennell’s vision. She wanted to see the absolute devilish joy radiating from Keoghan’s performance. To achieve this, Keoghan willingly repeated the scene four more times until they captured the desired essence.
Saltburn’s triumphant ending, featuring Barry Keoghan’s daring portrayal of Oliver dancing around the manor with no clothes, was a deliberate choice to convey a sense of liberation, rebellion, and triumph. Keoghan’s performance and commitment to the scene, alongside Fennell’s directorial vision, allowed them to create a memorable and powerful closing sequence that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on audiences.