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Kill Your Darlings: 7 Directors Tell Us About The Best Scenes They Had To Cut Out Of Their Films

Seven directors. Seven scenes we’ll never see.

1. Nicolas Winding Refn

“For Drive, we’d shot an incredible sequence where Ryan Gosling’s character, the driver, blows off steam by entering a street race. To reinforce how good a driver he is, we had him win effortlessly as he devoured whole roasted Cornish game hens out of his lap. And Ryan killed it. I mean, he was pulling off hairpin turns while chowing down on thighs and sucking bones clean, making a pile on the passenger seat, juices streaming down his chin. We loaded his lap up with seven or eight hens, thinking he’d get two or three down; he downed them all by the finish line.

“We had to cut it after our foley artist walked out over a contract dispute. It wouldn’t have been any good without good hen-eating noises.”

2. J.J. Abrams

“I’m proud of Star Trek, but I still wish we’d been able to include the scene where Leonard Nimoy’s alternate-dimension Spock tells Kirk the whole synopsis of the original Star Trek series. We worked and reworked the script to get it down to a lean nine-minute monologue, movies included, and Leonard, bless him, pulled it off in a single take with that wonderful delivery of his. We thought it was a fitting salute to Star Trek’s legacy, but the Roddenberry estate didn’t agree, and the studio had us cut it to avoid a big legal blowup.”

3. Kathryn Bigelow

Zero Dark Thirty originally included a scene where Jessica Chastain is so desperate to get inside the head of Osama bin Laden and figure out how his mind works that she has a CIA team dress her up exactly like him. Turban, beard, fatigues, fake nose—everything.

“Of course, it doesn’t work, but it culminates in this incredible, raw moment of her screaming at her bin Ladened reflection as she pounds on the mirror, her target right there but at the same time completely out of reach. Our CIA contacts were very cagey about oversharing their counterterrorism techniques, though, so it was cut.”

4. Tom Hooper

“In The King’s Speech, right before his big final address, we included a scene where Colin Firth fried and ate an executed prisoner’s tongue to gain its power. It was beautifully shot. You’re supposed to be left with this big ambiguity: Was it the lessons that fixed him, or eating a man’s tongue? Now, there’s no ambiguity, and it’s objectively a worse movie.”

5. Martin Scorsese

“I fought and fought to keep my cameo in The Wolf Of Wall Street. In my opinion, it tied the whole film together. Right up top, I’d walk out, put my arm around Leo, and say, ‘I’m Martin Scorsese, and I endorse everything in this movie. I love the rich and their drugged cruelties. I, Martin, approve of anything this man does, and morality is hot milk for babies. Goodbye.’ It was dynamite, and when the studio asked me to cut it, I came this close to scrapping the whole picture.”

6. Zack Snyder

“We had to cut the great part in Man Of Steel where Superman flew super fast and licked the whole world and everything on it in a minute flat, ‘to know what home tastes like.’ What a kinetic sequence. The whole world, glistening. What a shame.”

7. Quentin Tarantino

“The diner scene in Reservoir Dogs originally ran a good chunk longer, because that’s where they kick around team names—‘Suit Lightning,’ ’The Briefcase Boys,’ ‘The Cop Ear Haters,’ ‘Skinny Steve and his Unscrupulous Seven,’ ‘Mayhem, Inc.’—before deciding that their team name should be ‘The World-Famous Reservoir Dogs.’ The dialogue just popped off the page. To this day, I don’t even know how audiences were able to make sense of the movie without that scene.”