Saltburn's shocking grave scene was 'improvised' by Barry Keoghan on the day of filming

3 January 2024, 19:57

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By Katie Louise Smith

Oliver's wild sex scene on top of the grave was not in the original Saltburn script. Here's why it was added.

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Whether it's the bathtub scene, the "vampire" period sex scene or the grave scene, you can't go 45 seconds without stumbling on a post about Saltburn's shocking scenes while scrolling through your social media timelines at the moment.

The dark comedy psychological thriller has become a huge talking point since its December streaming release, and viewers are slowly discovering all the surprising and wild behind-the-scenes facts about those graphic scenes.

It's recently been revealed that Saltburn's original script included a completely different ending for Barry Keoghan's character, Oliver. Now, another one of Oliver's most talked about scenes has been revealed to have been 'improvised' on the day of filming by the actor.

It turns out that the grave scene was never actually that graphic in the original script. Director Emerald Fennell ended up adding it on the day of filming, and Barry took it in his stride and delivered the whole thing there and then.

READ MORE: Saltburn director reveals alternative ending for Barry Keoghan's character

Saltburn's grave scene was changed on the day of filming
Saltburn's grave scene was changed on the day of filming. Picture: Amazon Prime Video

Initially, the scene where Oliver stays behind alone to mourn Felix's grave was not as graphic as it ended up being. Emerald reveals that the original script only called for Oliver to "finger and kiss" the grave. It wasn't ever meant to go that far at first.

On the day of filming, however, that all changed. Deciding that it wasn't quite working out, the director ended up asking Barry to try something different and completely unscripted.

"I spoke to Barry in the morning," Emerald told Entertainment Weekly, "And I just said, 'I don’t know, Barry. I think that he would...unzip' [...] And Barry just said, 'Yup.'"

The infamous grave scene was then born. After it was decided that Oliver would unzip his trousers and start to have sex with Felix's grave, the set was shut down. Only four people, including Barry and Emerald, where present while that scene was being filmed.

Barry Keoghan 'improvised' Saltburn grave scene after it was added on the day of filming
Barry Keoghan 'improvised' Saltburn grave scene after it was added on the day of filming. Picture: Amazon Prime Video

Speaking about shooting the film and the motivations behind Oliver's actions, Barry told the publication: "She plants seeds, Emerald, you know what I mean? She knows that they're going to grow, these seeds, especially when she plants them with me."

"But it is a testament to Emerald and having that idea and me meeting it with, to be honest, no questions. I was totally on board for it," he added.

Barry then explained that the whole scene isn't actually to do with the grave itself, it's more about how Oliver doesn't know what to do with his obsession and unrequited love: "It's making me confused and making me unhuman in a way. It was a total discovery for him, I think. And it was sad. It was very, very sad."

Discussing why she wanted to push that scene further, Emerald added: "There’s no way it couldn’t be in the film. There’s no way I could see a performance of that dedication — an expression of grief and love as intense as that — and not show it."

She went on to call Barry's performance in the scene "the most extraordinary thing I'd ever seen".

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