The ending of Birdman provoked widespread head-scratching and plenty of conversation. The scene has earned diehard admirers and baffled detractors. But it turns out there was an alternate ending—that final scene with Michael Keaton and Emma Stone wasn’t always set in stone. In an interview with The Q & A Podcast, co-writer Alexander Dinelaris explained Iñárritu’s original plan for a mise-en-abyme closing scene for the film, as described here by Indiewire:
Then the camera prowled like it did the whole film, went back stage through the halls we’ve seen the whole time and we’d get to the dressing room where literally Johnny Depp would be sitting looking in the mirror and putting on his Riggan Thomson wig and then the poster of Pirates of the Caribbean 5 would be in the back. In Jack Sparrow’s voice [it would say], ‘What the f*** are we doing here, mate?’ It was going to be the satire of the endless loop of that.
Dinelaris goes on to explain that Iñárritu had been “very passionate” about changing the ending in order to not close off the film or answer its viewers questions too neatly. Asked by Indiewire about his original ending in an interview last month, Iñárritu said: “I will never tell you. It was so embarrassing. It was bad.”