Zoolander’s original pitch featured an ending in which the film’s titular protagonist “died and went to heaven,” but the studio passed the idea on.
The cast and crew of Zoolander recently caught up with Esquire to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the satire directed by Ben Stiller. Reflecting on the classic 2001 comedy, John Hamburg, the film’s co-writer, recalled a time when the team considered giving the film a much darker ending where Derek Zoolander would “die and go to the paradise”.
Actor Ben Stiller recalled the abandoned finale which allegedly saw Derek Zoolander face a bullet train as he walked towards him on a track. “He has to pull the ‘Blue Steel’ or ‘Magnum’ gaze on the train to stop it, and that doesn’t work,” he explained. “The train plows it and kills it, basically, and then it goes up to the sky.”
The scene that resulted in Derek’s disappearance was never filmed because the studio ultimately didn’t think it was funny enough. The team returned to the drawing board and ended up replacing it with a “well-being end” in which Derek, Hansel and Maury hatched a plan to open a center for
ants “Children who can’t read well and want to learn to do other things well too.”
Zoolander spawned a sequel in 2016, which wouldn’t have been possible if Derek had thrown the bucket away. Nor would he have been able to rub shoulders with the stacked roster of celebrity cameos lined up for the second film – including one by Justin Bieber that served to “delight and terrify audiences in equal measure,” according to the critic. ‘IGN of Zoolander 2.
Adele Ankers is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.