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Warning: mild SPOILERS for Palm Springs are ahead!
While we never learn the exact circumstances in which Andy Samberg’s Palm Springs character, Nyles, was caught in the movie’s time loop, the reason he was in the eponymous location in the first place is because he was accompanying his girlfriend to a wedding. However, had the events of Palm Springs unfolded as originally intended, Nyles would have been in the desert city for a depressing reason rather than a joyous one: to end his life.
This revelation comes from Palm Springs writer Andy Siara, who said the following while talking about how he and director Max Barbakow came up with the movie’s story:
We just built this story around Nyles. Honestly, the first version of this movie was more of like Leaving Las Vegas, where this guy goes out to Palm Springs to essentially kill himself. And then it just evolved over the years for a variety of reasons. I got married, fell in love, and started a family, and a lot of it is kind of about that. And Max went through shit. But it was always, from the beginning, me and Max as kind of acting as each other’s therapists and entertaining each other and trying to make each other laugh.
Well, taking the Leaving Las Vegas approach certainty would have been a darker path to travel, especially considering that if Nyles was to die when time was acting normally, one can only imagine how much more frustrated he’d have been to discover he was forced to repeat the same day over and over again. But as Andy Siana told Consequence of Sound, the progression of life can change how one puts together a story, and that ultimately led to him and Max Barbakow coming up with a more positive reason to place Nyles in Palm Springs.
Had the movie stuck with Nyles going to Palm Springs to eventually die, it’s unclear how he would have met Cristin Milioti’s Sarah, and whether she would have already been living there or was visiting the location for another reason. Regardless, it was easy enough for Nyles and Sarah to cross paths in the final version of Palm Springs, although unfortunately for the latter, she ignored the former’s advice to stay away from the freaky glowing cave and ended up getting trapped in this Groundhog Day-like scenario with him and J.K. Simmons’ Roy.
Following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, Palm Springs was picked up by Neon and Hulu for a reported $22 million. While there were certain scenes involving Nyles that couldn’t be realized because of the movie’s small production budget, considering how much positive reception Palm Springs has earned in the last several days from critics and audiences alike, clearly the finished product is a hit among the masses.