Unveiling the Unconventional Ending of Saltburn: A Closer Look at Barry Keoghan's Triumph

Braden Hirschi

By Braden Hirschi

Published December 26, 2023

The ending of Emerald Fennell's Saltburn has been making waves, particularly the unexpected and triumphant conclusion featuring Barry Keoghan stripping away his clothes. As the film gains traction on Amazon's Prime Video, curiosity about the origins of this unconventional ending has piqued the interest of many viewers.

Director's Insight

In a recent interview, Fennell revealed that the original script did not include Keoghan's character, Oliver, dancing through the manor with no clothes on. Instead, there was a version of the script where Oliver was depicted on his way to breakfast, being served runny eggs by the butler, serving as a callback to an earlier scene. Fennell emphasized the importance of creating a sense of ambiguity and duality in the audience's perception of Oliver, stating, 'If we all did our job correctly, you are on Oliver's side. You don't care what he does, you want him to do it. It's that kind of dance with the devil.'

A Post-Coital Triumph

Fennell highlighted the necessity for a triumphant, post-coital win for Oliver in the film's conclusion. The decision to depict Oliver dancing around Saltburn with no clothes, accompanied by Sophie Ellis-Bextor's "Murder on the Dance Floor," was a pivotal moment that conveyed a sense of ownership and confidence. Keoghan expressed his immediate embrace of the unconventional scene, stating, 'It totally felt right. It's ownership. This is my place. It's full confidence in, 'I can do what I want in this manor. I can strip to my barest and waltz around because this is mine.' Yeah... it was fun.'

Overcoming Hesitation

While Keoghan initially had reservations about the scene, he quickly acclimated to the environment and the significance of the narrative, eagerly embracing subsequent takes. He reflected on his initial apprehension, stating, 'The initial thing was about me having no clothes on. I'm a bit, ehhh. But after take one, I was ready to go. You kind of forget, because there's such a comfortable environment created, and it gives you that license to go, 'All right, this is about the story now.'

The Pursuit of Perfection

Fennell recounted the meticulous process of capturing the scene, revealing that it took 11 takes to achieve the desired result. Keoghan's dedication to embodying the essence of Oliver led to multiple takes, with Fennell commending his commitment, stating, 'Barry, to his credit, did it four more times until the one that you see, which has this total f***ing evil joie de vivre that is impossible not to be on board with.' The pursuit of capturing the 'absolutely devilish joy' in Oliver's portrayal exemplified the meticulous attention to detail in crafting the film's unconventional conclusion.