"These two people screw it up in perpetuity," says Ryan.
Warning: This article contains spoilers from What Happens Later.
Happy endings are the bread and butter of romantic comedies, but a marriage proposal or a ride into the sunset isn't always in the cards for a couple. Sometimes things are more ambiguous, which is exactly the case in What Happens Later.
The movie, directed by and starring Meg Ryan opposite David Duchovny, follows two exes, Willa (Ryan) and Bill (Duchovny), who reconnect after missing their connections in a regional airport and being snowed in together. The two haven't seen each other for nearly 20 years, but when the universe pushes them back into each other's lives, they can't help but retread old arguments, seek answers as to why they broke up in the first place, and try to help the other with their current challenges.
The film ends as each of them boards their respective rescheduled flight, waving goodbye through their plane windows and realizing they didn't even exchange phone numbers. But Ryan, who also cowrote the film with Steven Dietz and Kirk Lynn, surmises that this won't be the last time these two people cross paths.
"The last music cue in the score is called 'Bye for Now,'" she reveals. "I think these two people screw it up in perpetuity. The ending is perfect. I don't think it's unsatisfying either. There's something about who they are. The question throughout the movie is, will they or won't they end up together? But it's other things they give each other. They level up with each of their daughters. They satisfy a mystery from long ago. They remember themselves. They time travel together actually [in a way]."
Adds Duchovny: "Hopefully, it's something that people will discuss. Some will want us to be together, some will not."
Initially, when Duchovny saw a rough cut, he recalls the temp footage looking like Bill and Willa's planes crashed into each other. "I was like, 'Oh, that's interesting, okay.' They end up together in a way," he quips.
He also points out that even though they didn't get the other's cell phone numbers, it hardly matters in the world of social media connectivity. "These questions of, 'Will they be together at the end?' If they want to be, it's easy. Even though I didn't get the number, you can find anybody."
What Happens Later is now playing in theaters.
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