Bradley Cooper nailed his emotionally-charged, award-worthy final scene in 'Nightmare Alley' in just 1 take, according to director Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toroand Bradley Coopernailed the final shot of " Nightmare Alley" in one take.
- "When we finished that day, I was crying and he was crying," del Toro said of the emotional scene.
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for "Nightmare Alley."
Guillermo del Toro revealed he and Bradley Cooper nailed the emotionally-charged final scene of "Nightmare Alley" in just one take — and that they were both "crying" afterwards.
"Nightmare Alley" follows Stanton Carlisle (Cooper), a charismatic but down on his luck grifter who's determined to make a name for himself. When he falls in with a group of carnival performers and learns the performance secrets of former mentalist Pete (David Strathairn), Stanton takes what he's learned and starts conning the rich and powerful.
But Stan's elaborate schemes soon begin to unravel, especially when a mysterious psychiatrist, Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), catches wind of his act.
The film ends with an alcoholic, desperate Stan, now abandoned by his lover, Molly (Rooney Mara), and swindled out of his newfound fortune by Lilith, agreeing to become a carnival "geek." Geeks were poorly-treated "performers" (frequently people in the throes of addiction) known for their grotesque stunts, like biting the heads off of live chickens.
During a Q&A following the New York premiere of "Nightmare Alley" on December 1, del Toro, Cooper, and other members of the cast and crew reflected on their experience making the film.
"The most sacred act and most important act in everybody's life is the one when you reveal yourself to you," del Toro said of the film's final act. "And for us, it was about knowing Stanton's loneliness, and not judging."
The director called the final shot of "Nightmare Alley" — in which Stan laughs manically after agreeing to take the "geek" position — the "Mount Everest" of the film, and said that he and the producers were in agreement to take however much time they needed to "nail" it.
"We're going to shoot this, 50, 60 times, whatever we need. And... [We got it on] take one," del Toro recalled. "When we finished that day, I was crying and he was crying, and I went, 'One more?'"
But as del Toro humorously revealed, the second take wasn't as good as the first, which was the one that made it into the final cut of the film.
"This is a moment that, I think, Bradley is playing so many [emotional] chords — not playing, they're coming out of him. And one of them is relief. It's like the man that has committed many crimes and finally gets arrested," the "Shape of Water" director said of the emotional scene.
"Nightmare Alley" premieres Friday in theaters. You can watch the trailer below.
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