‘A Family Affair’ Director Reveals the Movie’s Original Ending

Note: The following contains spoilers for the ending of “A Family Affair.”

The love story at the center of “A Family Affair” may be messy, but it does have a happy ending. Although, according to the film’s director Richard LaGravenese, the movie originally had a different way of wrapping up.

Now streaming on Netflix, “A Family Affair” centers on Zara Ford (Joey King), a 24-year-old aspiring movie producer, who’s working as the assistant of movie star Chris Cole (Zac Efron). Cole is a pretty terrible boss, always holding Zara’s job over her head to get her to do the crazy things he asks for.

When Chris starts sleeping with Zara’s mom Brooke (Nicole Kidman), she’s obviously less than thrilled. Zara makes conscious efforts to show her mom exactly what kind of guy Chris is, and does actually succeed. But, realizing that Brooke and Chris had real feelings for each other — ones that actually made Chris be a better guy — Zara uses her connections to produce a happy ending for the couple.

Now don’t worry, Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman’s characters were still going to end up together in the movie’s original ending. That was always part of the plan. But according to LaGravenese, they originally got back together with a little less help from Zara.

“Joey’s character wasn’t as integral to bringing them together, which we felt was important,” LaGravenese told TheWrap. “And it was the same thematic idea, ‘Let’s get together but we don’t know what this is going to be,’ that idea was the same. But it happened on the Hollywood set that he brings her to at the first date, that location was different.”

The director noted that the location was changed specifically because writer Carrie Solomon wanted to set a climactic romantic scene somewhere it’s never really been done before — i.e. the produce department of a grocery store.

“So we had to add a couple of scenes in the front to seed that. And it turned out just great,” LaGravenese explained. “We loved it. It just made more sense. And every character got to have a little bit more of a completion than the first ending.”

The final minutes of the film also include a flash forward to one year later, showing that Chris and Brooke were indeed still together, Zara was no longer an assistant but a proper producer — on her friend Stella’s (Sherry Cola) film no less — and Chris followed through on his promise to star in the film.

But that flash forward also wasn’t part of the original ending, LaGravenese said. It wasn’t even part of the new ending, at first.


“That was added rather quickly. Even during the reshoot, we pulled together a set and asked Zac to stay and do a scene,” he recalled. “And again, it just felt right to their characters. But I’m really glad we had it because that also showed not just a progression of Joey’s character, but as a continuation of the core relationship, which is between her and Zac.”

It took a bit of waiting to make the new ending happen though, thanks to Hollywood’s double strike in 2023. “A Family Affair” shot in 2022, and LaGravenese noted they finished filming “on time, under schedule.”

But, when he and his team were in post-production, they decided they wanted to change the ending. And then the strike hit. Once the strike ended, LaGravenese recalls that “schedules got jammed.” In the end, they managed to shoot the new ending over the course of two weekends.

It was important to both LaGravenese and Solomon that the ending be tweaked not to force a happy ending, but to create “an honest ending.” Creating a realistic outcome for the rom-com was something they both valued above all else.

“In an honest ending, two people love each other, and they decide to have a relationship, and they they decide to see whether or not the relationship is going to move forward,” LaGravenese said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. But for the moment, it’s that old adage of better to love than not to have loved at all. Let’s just love when we can, when it’s real — that’s important. And that’s a happy ending.”

He continued, “It doesn’t mean that marriage of this one person, or — all of life is solved. It just means love is precious; when you got it, take it and experience it. So to me, that’s a happy ending.”

Having written and directed one of the most popular on-screen love stories of all time in “P.S. I Love You,” LaGravenese knows that times have changed, and audiences expect more realistic endings.

“We can’t sugarcoat things and we can’t pretend anymore,” he said. “It’s better just to be honest about our relationships and what we feel and what we and what we think, especially now.”

“A Family Affair” is now streaming on Netflix.

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