In Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s wild, universe-jumping film Everything everywhere at once, much of the plot revolves around the branching points where people make their important decisions. Each decision creates a new timeline and a new what-if world. The powerful accompanying artbook A massive mindless spin of radioactive rocks and gases that randomly features you creates his own series of what-ifs – notably in the script for a scene that Daniels excised from the film. The sequence suggests an entirely alternate timeline for her film, with entirely new characters and a radically different tone.
In this early version of the film, Kwan tells Polygon, the Wang family—Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) and her father, husband, and daughter—were briefly introduced at the beginning before an unseen narrator took over the story. “It used to be more about family,” says Kwan. “It started with a video of the family, and then the narrator said, ‘Anyway, let’s move on!’ and we jump into this other thing.”
This Whole Other Thing is a sequence that feels like it’s straight out of Douglas Adams’ classic tongue-in-cheek sci-fi comedy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – notably the radio play version and the 1981 BBC TV version, which frame the story with narration from the eponymous Hitchhiker’s Guide.
The narrator inside Everything everywhereThe deleted scene from begins with an introduction to the story in cosmic terms: “Here we are, this moment, at the beginning. And because most beginnings are also often endings, it would be wrong if I didn’t point out that we are also here, at the end. And because every moment would not be possible without the moment before and becomes unnecessary without the moment after, we could say that the existence of everything that has happened and will happen depends on the existence of this one moment. That’s it. That’s all. Let us begin.”
The narrator goes on to introduce two men who illustrate the principles of the film’s infinite multiverse. The first, WT Warren, is a 20-year-old football helmet tester in 1912 in Pennsylvania. His job is to put on the helmets and run headfirst into a farmhouse wall. When a quantum accident causes him to go completely through the wall during a test – an unlikely event that must happen at least once in a universe of infinite possibilities – he gets drunk and decides that God wants him to inspire people with miracles. So he confronts three armed robbers who fatally stab him – although, as the narrator notes, in a small subset of universes the knife goes through him too, and he goes on to marry the love of his life, whom he was trying to impress, as he confronted the thieves.
“And if you think this all feels like a fundamental misunderstanding of how the world works, then I’m afraid your opinion of infinity may be underplaying this story, my friend,” says the narrator.
The scene continues with another character, a high school soccer player from 1957. If he catches a certain soccer ball in a certain game, he becomes the leader of a cult. If he misses, he will be hurt and become a lonely carpenter, only happy in universes where tables can talk. All of this narrative lays out the idea of a multiverse defined by both coincidence and choice, but it all seems a huge departure from the finished film, which focuses much more specifically on Evelyn and her family.
As Scheinert explains, he and Kwan dropped this scene from their original script fairly early on. “I don’t think it’s ever been in a draft that we’ve sent to anyone,” he says. “It was like draft point eight. Before we sent [the script] to any producers we cut [this sequence]because the script was 255 pages long.”
Kwan and Scheinert say the narrative was intended to set up a specific alternate universe that also does not appear in the finished film. The narrator should have what Kwan describes as “a very eloquent, maybe southern voice.” “Someone like Susan Sarandon,” adds Scheinert. Eventually, when Evelyn traverses various multiverses, she enters one in which her voice is also provided by the narrator.
“So she would have the voice of Susan Sarandon,” says Kwan, “and you would realize, ‘Oh, in this universe, she was adopted by a white family who brought her over from Asia, and she grew up adoptive. and she has perfect English, and she became a writer.’ So that was a big, long part of the story.”
According to Scheinert, the overall framework should be reminiscent of Douglas Adams and Paul Thomas Anderson in equal measure Magnolia. But it also sprang from the Daniels’ admiration for Charlie Kaufman, the author of Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, be John Malkovichand Synecdoche, New York.
“I think that’s one of the biggest tangents we’ve driven,” says Scheinert. “We love Charlie Kaufman, and the original idea had a very Kaufman-like quality that was, ‘Let’s make a very accessible sci-fi action movie that’s falling apart because the multiverse is crazy.’ It took us a while to realize that we didn’t have to go postmodern to do that.”
Both Daniels say that the film’s overall concept was so inherently postmodern that it didn’t need recursive characters or framing. “It was in the substance,” says Scheinert. “So we removed a lot of that. But we’ve been playing with it for a long time, like, ‘Should we be characters in our own film? Should the film be a book written by this alternate Evelyn?’ I’m glad we took this detour because it helped us develop the themes, but those ideas weren’t necessary.”
A massive mindless spin of radioactive rocks and gases that randomly features you is available in the A24 Merch Store. In addition to the deleted scene, it includes original artwork, short stories, an interview about the multiverse between the Daniels and “their favorite neuroscientist, David Eagleman,” and an essay by Carl Sagan’s daughter, author Sasha Sagan.
https://www.polygon.com/23027564/everything-everywhere-all-at-once-deleted-scene-script Everything Everywhere All At Once’s original script was even weirder