Carey Mulligan and Lone Scherfig Reveal An Education's Original Ending
While discussing her film An Education a few weeks ago in Los Angeles, Carey Mulligan sprung a surprise: "I don't know if somebody told you about this, but there's a different ending to the film. Am I allowed to say?" Naturally, I was interested for two reasons: Deleted scenes are always better when they're described to you by a pixie-cut ingenue with a lilting British accent, and Nick Hornby's script is sure to be Oscar-nominated, so it might be instructive to learn how he'd originally planned to end the film.
With a little prodding, both Mulligan and director Lone Scherfig opened up about the cut conclusion. As you can imagine, there are spoilers ahead.
In the film's current ending, Mulligan's Jenny has managed to recover from the heartbreak she suffered at the hands of Peter Sarsgaard's deceitful David and heads to Oxford to resume her academic career. "She's with this new guy who's of an appropriate age, and they're on bikes, which is fun," laughed Mulligan. "She's sort of reinventing herself."
The original version of the film, though, had a much more climactic ending where David crashes Jenny's Oxford experience. In fact, said Mulligan, "If you watch the last scene of the film, you'll see his car in the back of the frame, which we couldn't cut out." David's return to Jenny was supposed to come after a prison stint for fraud, and he had reconciliation on his mind. "He comes back and says, 'I'm getting a divorce. I want you back -- you're still my Minnie Mouse, I'm still your Bubble-Lub.' And she goes, 'Psh! Please.'"
Scherfig said the scene was intended to give Jenny a moment where she could finally put David in his place. "It's like, 'Look, we had fun, but you were the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time and I don't want to see you again.' She gets some sort of revenge."
Still, outside forces intervened in shooting the sequence, which led to its eventual scrapping. "We filmed it in Oxford and we had this glorious sunshine [after] we'd battled weather on the whole film," said Mulligan. "They filmed Sars's side and they they turned around we ran out of time and they didn't get me, then we tried to re-shoot it a couple of weeks later and it was in the rain, so it never matched."
A few critics have quibbled about An Education's tidy end, but Scherfig doesn't regret deleting that final confrontation. "Ultimately, we just decided that it worked better without it," she said. "So we just cut the scene." ♦