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Director reveals original ending

Note: The following contains spoilers for the ending of “A Family Affair.”

The love story at the center of “A Family Affair” is chaotic, but it has a happy ending, although according to director Richard LaGravenese, the film was originally supposed to end differently.

Now streaming on Netflix, A Family Affair follows Zara Ford (Joey King), a 24-year-old aspiring film producer who works as an assistant to movie star Chris Cole (Zac Efron). Cole is a pretty awful boss who constantly throws Zara out of her job to get her to do the crazy things he wants her to do.

When Chris starts sleeping with Zara’s mother Brooke (Nicole Kidman), she is clearly not happy. Zara makes a conscious effort to show her mother what kind of person Chris is, and actually succeeds. However, when Zara realizes that Brooke and Chris had real feelings for each other – feelings that actually made Chris a better person – she uses her connections to bring about a happy ending for the couple.

But don’t worry, Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman’s characters were still supposed to get together at the original end of the film. That was always part of the plan. But according to LaGravenese, they originally got back together with a little less help from Zara.

Netflix family affair

“Joey’s character wasn’t as instrumental in bringing them together, which we thought was important,” LaGravenese told TheWrap. “And it was the same thematic idea of ​​’Let’s get together, but we don’t know what’s going to happen,’ that idea was the same. But it happened on the Hollywood set that he brings her to on the first date, that place was different.”

The director pointed out that the setting was changed specifically because writer Carrie Solomon wanted a climactic romantic scene to take place in a place where it had never happened before – namely, the produce section of a grocery store.

“So we had to add a few scenes at the beginning to hint at that. And it turned out great,” LaGravenese explained. “We loved it. It just made more sense. And each character got a little more fleshing out than they did at the first ending.”

In the last minutes of the film, there is also a time jump into the past, which shows that Chris and Brooke were actually still together, Zara was no longer an assistant but a real producer – and of all things, on her friend Stella’s (Sherry Cola) film – and Chris kept his promise to act in the film.

But that flash forward wasn’t part of the original ending, either, LaGravenese said. It wasn’t even part of the new ending to begin with.

Netflix family affair
Netflix

“That was added pretty quickly. Even during reshoots, we put together a set and asked Zac to stay and do a scene,” he recalls. “And again, it just felt right for their characters. But I’m really glad we had it because it showed not only a progression of Joey’s character, but also a continuation of the core relationship between her and Zac.”

However, thanks to Hollywood’s one-two punch in 2023, it took a while for the new ending to come together. “A Family Affair” was filmed in 2022, and LaGravenese noted that they finished filming “on time and even under schedule.”

But when he and his team were in post-production, they decided to change the ending. And then the strike came. After the strike ended, LaGravenese recalls, “the schedules got messed up.” In the end, they managed to shoot the new ending in two weekends.

It was important to both LaGravenese and Solomon that the ending was not changed to force a happy ending, but rather to create “an honest ending.” Creating a realistic ending for the romantic comedy was the most important thing for both of them.

“An honest ending is where two people love each other and they decide to be in a relationship and then they decide to see if the relationship continues or not,” LaGravenese said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. But right now, the old saying is: Better to love than never to have loved. Let’s just love when we can, when it’s genuine – that’s what’s important. And that’s a happy ending.”

He continued, “It doesn’t mean that this one person’s marriage or their whole life is over. It just means that love is precious. If you have it, take it and experience it. So to me, that’s a happy ending.”

Having written and directed one of the most beloved love stories of all time, PS I Love You, LaGravenese knows that times have changed and audiences expect more realistic endings.

“We can’t sugarcoat things and we can’t fake things anymore,” he said. “It’s better to just be honest about our relationships and what we feel and what we think, especially now.”

“A Family Affair” is now streaming on Netflix.

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