George Clooney Wrote The Most Controversial Scene In Gravity

Many of you caught Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity over the weekend. As we reported, the sci-fi thriller banked an impressive $55M ton win the box office and set a number of October records. But there’s one particular scene that’s irking even those who loved the movie, and the director has an interesting explanation as to how the scene came to be.

We’re about to dive into massive spoilers for Gravity, so STOP READING if you haven’t already seen Cuaron’s movie!

Still with us? OK, so the scene in question involves the return of Clooney’s veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalski. Late in the game, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) has reached her breaking point. She thinks that she has exhausted every possible opportunity to return home. She shuts down the oxygen the capsule that contains her, and prepares to asphyxiate. But she’s woken out of her stupor by her supervisor (Clooney), who reminds her of one last option she hadn’t explored. Only the catch is, Kowalski’s still dead, and Stone was – what? Imagining him? Envisioning him? Conjuring his essence? The scene is open to multiple interpretations.

Cuaron, himself, addressed the scene directly in a Vulture interview, and explained that much like Bullock’s character, the filmmaker and his son, Jonas (who co-wrote the screenplay) also felt like they were hitting dead ends. They were struggling with figuring out how to make that scene work. And it was Clooney who helped them with a rewrite, ending up with the scene in question. As Cuaron puts it:

"We were struggling with rewrites, we’d stripped everything, a lot of the dialogue; we knew that anything that was going to be said, it was going to have a lot of weight, There was one scene we were doing over and over and over, and George overheard that we were dealing with that. And then one night I receive an e-mail from him, saying, ‘I heard you were struggling with this. I took a shot with the scene, Read it. Throw it out.’ And we ended up using it. This was exactly what we needed."

Clooney, to his credit, isn’t exactly some diva leading man who simply wanted to insert himself into another scene (though I doubt Warner Bros. had ANY issue bringing this A-lister back into what’s essentially a two-actor stage play). He’s an Oscar-nominated director with a string of pedigreed dramas on his resume. And I commend him for offering advice to Cuaron … and to Cuaron for actually taking it. Film is such a collaborative effort, even on a movie like Gravity, which appears to be the driving voice of one distinctly talented filmmaker.

The scene isn’t included below. But any excuse we can come up with to keep showing you the exquisite Gravity trailers, we’re going to take it. Now, weigh in. Did you like that scene? Would it have bothered you if it played out differently? Or did the return of Clooney’s character take you out of Cuaron’s otherwise mesmerizing masterpiece? Let us hear your thoughts below.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.