EXCLUSIVE: Original Brüno Ending Included Brutal Gay Bashing Played for Laughs
Though Brüno won't hit theaters until July 11, the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy has already prompted extensive debate about whether it's well-intended satire or a joke that's poised to blow up in the face of the gay community. As polarizing as the movie has already turned out to be, Movieline has learned that the original cut of the film featured an ending that doubtlessly would have been even more controversial.
In the current cut of the film, Bruno (Cohen) and his ditched, lovesick assistant Lutz (Gustaf Hammerstan) reunite in the movie's third act centerpiece: an Arkansas cage match where the two begin to make out inside the cage while an angry audience mob reacts with disbelief and, eventually, makeshift hurled weapons. In the film's epilogue, the reconnected couple embrace domesticity with their adopted baby, and Bruno sings us into the credits with the help of an star-studded, satirical gay rights anthem.
However, when Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles screened the film back in February for a select industry audience, the result of that cage match wasn't nearly as rosy.
Writer-director Richard Day (Arrested Development, Ellen) was among the industry figures at the screening. In that version, Day tells Movieline, "The cage-match kiss resulted in a violent attack on the couple. They then cut to a press event where they are announcing their marriage or plans to, I forget which. But the boyfriend is now drooling, seemingly brain-damaged, and in a wheelchair, played for laughs."
Day notes that he and actor Jack Plotnick were the only gay people invited to the screening, and that after the film ended, the other industry figures gave the film a thumbs-up. "Then I started in and Jack joined with his thoughts. By the time I got to the bashing, the audience started defending the movie. They were annoyed with us for ruining the party."
Still, that ending was ultimately among the reshot portions of the film that a mystery source revealed to Nikki Finke and The Wrap weeks ago.
"I don't know if we're why they changed it but if we are, I regret saying anything," says Day. "It would have been better to let them expose their true point of view; thanks to us they had a road map of the most egregious offenses and can also claim to have been responsive to our concerns."
Day says that wasn't the filmmakers' first attempt at outreach, though: he'd met with Charles (with whom he'd worked with on Mad About You) before the film started shooting. "He had me come in to meet with Sacha Baron Cohen when all they had was an outline because he wanted a gay voice on the film," says Day. "Then I never heard back, so I guess he was overruled or I blew the meeting or something. I remember telling them it read like it was written by people who didn't know much about actual gay life, but I don't remember it making me angry or anything."
We contacted Universal about the claims; a studio publicist responded, "No comment."