How Farts Improved A Scene In The Usual Suspects And Helped The Screenwriter Solve A Script Issue

The Usual Suspects lineup

Director Christopher McQuarrie is one of those filmmakers who uses social media to interact with his fans, often conducting lengthy Q-and-A sessions that help break down the process of filmmaking. McQuarrie knows a thing or two, having helmed a handful of Tom Cruise movies including Jack Reacher and the last two Mission: Impossible films. Usually McQuarrie’s insights are invaluable, though we’re not entirely sure how to classify McQ’s latest pearl of wisdom: “Sometimes you're good, sometimes someone farts.”

OK, a little context. A fan approached Chris McQuarrie with a question about the infamous lineup scene from The Usual Suspects, which McQuarrie wrote for Bryan Singer to direct. (The former earned the Oscar in 1996 for his incredible work.) The rumor was that the lineup scene was meant to be played straight, but the Usual Suspects actors kept cracking each other up, and the film’s editor John Ottman left it in because of how well it worked. McQuarrie verified this on Twitter, and went on to explain:

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That, alone, is very funny, and now I’m dying to see the outtakes where the farts in the interrogation lineup are audible. What’s even more miraculous, though, is that the impromptu flatulence actually helped Christopher McQuarrie solve a script issue that he had been staring down. According to his follow up Tweet, McQ had been told that the movie needed a scene where the criminals found a way to bond. But adding a full scene like that would have stopped the story cold, in McQuarrie’s opinion. So the characters cracking up over the ridiculousness of the lineup gave The Usual Suspects the bonding moment that the screenplay needed. Problem solved.

Or, as McQuarrie puts it, “Sometimes you’re good, sometimes someone farts."

The Usual Suspects really earns its place as one of the greatest examples of contemporary crime-noir. Yes, Christopher McQuarrie’s script is airtight, all leading up to a mindblowing twist that’s largely considered to be one of the best in modern movie history. But it’s hilarious scenes like the lineup sequence, where the criminals riff on a goofy piece of dialogue and allow the audience to learn their unique personalities, that helps The Usual Suspects stand apart from other films in this genre. It’s edgy and funny, tense and unpredictable. Watch this scene again, if you haven’t in a while. The alleged farter is rumored to be Benicio del Toro:

Chris McQuarrie has since moved on to take over the Mission: Impossible series, and it’s in incredible hands. I think his Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is the best of the bunch, though his follow up, Mission: Impossible: Fallout is almost as good. Fans are eagerly awaiting the next two Mission movies, which McQuarrie and Tom Cruise are filming essentially back to back. Look for Mission: Impossible 7 to land in theaters on May 27, 2022, and bookmark our Upcoming Movies Guide to keep track of the release dates for all your most-anticipated films.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean 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.