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Was Derek Zoolander Almost Killed Off At the End of Zoolander?

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: At one point, Zoolander was going to end with Derek Zoolander being killed.

Zoolander was a 2001 movie starring Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander, a dimwitted male model.

Zoolander gets caught up in a conspiracy where models are being brainwashed into becoming assassins. He works on the story with a reporter that he falls in love with…

He eventually teams up with his biggest rival, Hansel, to take down the assassination conspiracy…

Throughout the movie, there is a recurring joke where Zoolander is working on a new “look.” He has always done a certain look when he poses for the camera called “Blue Steel,” but he’s trying out a new look called “Magnum.”

In the climax of the film, Zoolander finally succeeds in pulling off his new look and “Magnum” successfully stuns everyone and even stops a shuriken from killing the Prime Minister of Malaysia (all part of a plot to keep child labor unregulated so that clothing could be made cheaper).

The film was officially credited to Ben Stiller, Drake Sather and John Hamburg, but Adam McKay (then the head writer of Saturday Night Live, and good friends and creative partners with Will Ferrell, who played the villain in Zoolander) was brought in to do rewrites and McKay came up with the whole “Magnum” plot point.

However, McKay initially argued for a different result for the debut of “Magnum.”

He explained to Slashfilm

This is going back years, but I did a rewrite on Zoolander. I think I wrote the second look that he does, and I also think I ended up writing the ending. Anyway, I had convinced Ben Stiller Zoolander should be working on his second look, Magnum, all throughout the movie. I added Magnum. My whole pitch was: once he finally does this look, it’s identical to Blue Steel. That was the joke. In the end, I thought there should be a train coming at him, and there should be a big buildup of music, and he should unveil Magnum. Then, the train should just hit him, and he should die. The movie should end with people going, “Why do you think a look would stop a train?” And he’d say, “But…it’s such a great look.’ That would’ve been the ending of the movie [Laughs]. I convinced Stiller, and Stiller said, “God, that’s fucking funny.” [Producer] Scott Rudin had to go, “You’re not fucking killing the character! We’re going to hopefully make three of these!” I got in trouble for it. That was a good one. Don’t kill your character at the end of your comedy, but God, it’s fun to play around with that idea.

Wow, that would have been hilarious.

Heck, maybe if they had done it as a dream sequence, it would have worked. It’s a really good gag.

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Thanks to Slashfilm and Adam McKay for the awesome quote!

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

In the latest Movie Legends Revealed, find out whether the original ending for Zoolander was going to involve Derek Zoolander being killed!

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