Why the ending of The Time Traveler's Wife changed

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

The new ending of the film version of The Time Traveler's Wife is very different from the one initially intended to close out the big-screen adaptation of the Audrey Niffenegger novel, which opens Aug. 14. In the film, Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams play Henry and Clare, a loving couple whose relationship has been complicated tremendously by the fact that Henry is a time traveler prone to vanishing any time, anywhere and without warning.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost) wrote the screenplay, and director Robert Schwentke (Flightplan) shot one particular ending for the sci-fi romance, but test audience reacted negatively, prompting a change.

"Yes, there was an ending in which you see [Clare] as an 80-year-old woman," Rubin said in a group interview this past weekend. "The audience said, 'Who's that? What's that about? Same actor, in makeup. I was told [about the negative reaction]. I wasn't there. It was a test screening, and a test-screening audience hated that. So we went back to what was the biggest emotional moment in the movie, which happened a few scenes before that, which is their coming together, and it's very emotional." (Readers of the book know that the novel's final scene also features an octogenarian Clare.)

During a separate conversation, Schwentke provided details about the ramifications of the decision to go with a different denouement.

"We chose to turn the penultimate scene of the film into the final scene," he said. "We got rid of the final scene. That, unfortunately, meant we had to go back and replicate what we'd done already. We were in a big meadow, and we needed the same light, time of day. We needed the same season. We needed it all the same. We also knew we were going to shoot quite a few close-ups, so wigs in terms of hair wouldn't have worked."

Schwentke added, "So we made the choice to say, 'OK, we know what we need to do. We're smarter now.' It's a process when you make a film.'"