LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13:  Terry Gilliam attends "The Banshees of Inisherin" UK Premiere at the 66th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 13, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK)
Movies - TV
The Zero Theorem's Original Ending Wasn't Enough For Terry Gilliam And Christoph Waltz
Spoiler Warning!
This story contains spoilers for the film "The Zero Theorem."
Terry Gilliam’s 2014 film “The Zero Theorem” follows Qohen (Christoph Waltz), a mentally unstable computer programmer who learns he’s working for a corporation to prove the entire universe adds up to zero. The film ends with Qohen being fired and told his life has no meaning, after which he destroys his computer, causing a black hole that he steps through and finding himself in “Heaven.”
However, this was a far departure from the film’s original “happy” ending that the studio wanted to include, as both Gilliam and Waltz felt that the “sad” ending fit the movie better. Gilliam talked about what the original ending was supposed to be, explaining that it was going to feature a fast sports car, an act of cathartic violence, and a note of hope for Qohen.
Gilliam felt that Qohen’s ordeal was too intense for him to survive undamaged, saying, “I felt we had to end on a note [where] he has dignity, and you felt that he has some acceptance of the world, rather than fighting, complaining, or running from it.” Gilliam’s ending gave Qohen a moment of strength, with the director commenting, “In the other ending, he looked more like a fool.”
The movie’s producers acquiesced to the change, but Gilliam still needed the approval of the original screenwriter, Pat Rushin. Luckily, Rushin, who felt pressured to make a typical Hollywood “happy” ending, also hated it; Gilliam shared, “The nice thing is when Pat Rushin saw the film, he thanked me for it. He said it was a crap ending we had on there before.”