Comedies are meant to make people laugh. Death is rarely funny. These two rules of movie making mean that very rarely do you see lead characters get killed at the end of comedies. That doesn’t mean that some people don’t try. Comedy writer-director Adam McKay had an idea for the end of the original Zoolander that would have seen Ben Stiller’s character get killed at the end and you know what? It would have been hysterical.
Adam McKay, the longtime writing partner of Will Ferrell, actually did an uncredited script rewrite on the original comedy starring Ben Stiller, though his original ending idea would have prevented Zoolander 2 from ever happening. McKay was actually responsible for the creation of the "Magnum" look that Zoolander spends the film trying to perfect. However, McKay tells SlashFilm that his original idea for the ending had the look getting revealed in a very different way.
In the end, I thought there should be a train coming at him, and there should be a big buildup of music, and he should unveil Magnum. Then, the train should just hit him, and he should die. The movie should end with people going, ‘Why do you think a look would stop a train?’ And he’d say, ‘But…it’s such a great look.’ That would’ve been the ending of the movie.
While it was a pretty great look, we won’t lie, it was not enough to stop an oncoming train. McKay may have succeeded here in making getting hit by a train, a thing that really isn’t that funny, utterly hilarious. Ultimately, it uses the major focus of the film, that Derek Zoolander is an idiot, to tell its last joke. Certainly a guy that dumb is ultimately going to get himself killed, that much is obvious, right? How exactly they were going to work in the oncoming train is not clear, but does it really matter?
The reason the ending was not used is probably fairly obvious. Producer Scott Rudin saw a potential for sequels in the film and so was not willing to kill the character off. For what it’s worth, the guy wasn’t wrong. Zoolander 2 is on its way, though probably much later than the studio would have preferred. At the same time, it’s not like they couldn’t have come up with an equally ridiculous reason to bring the character back to life. It’s a comedy. You don’t need a good reason, just a reason.
What do you think of the ending that almost was? Would you have preferred to see Zoolander take a train to his pretty, pretty face, or did you like the movie just the way it was?