Some people thought Interstellar‘s ending was confusing. I personally thought it came off like a Steven Moffat-penned Doctor Who episode, and as a big Doctor Who fan I was more or less prepared for that brand of weirdness. Some people thought Interstellar‘s ending was overly sentimental, upending a film so meticulously built on hard science as well as theoretical physics by throwing us a quite literal “Love saved everything” explanation. Others loved to mock how similar the ending was to the Dennis Quad father-son time-travel via the radio flick Frequency. Of course, the real person laughing in the scenario is Christopher Nolan, who reportedly made $90 million off of Interstellar, almost double what the studio made.
But the reason that ending is undergoing a momentary re-evaluation is because the other Nolan, you know, the one named Jonathan (Person of Interest) even though he actually prefers to be called Jonah, reportedly said at a media event that his original ending for Interstellar was “much more straightforward” and “had the [wormhole] collapse when Cooper tries to send the data back.” The problem is that Jonathan’s script has been available online for months now. and that’s not how things actually go down in that version.
Wait, what does Jonathan have to do with any of this? Well, Interstellar was originally set up at Paramount Pictures where Steven Spielberg was going to direct it through DreamWorks. Lynda Obst (Contact) was his producer, and astrophysicist Kip Thornend the executive-producer. They wanted to make a realistic space-exploration film that grounded concepts like black holes and wormholes in our best theoretical physics. To help them turn these ideas into a screenplay they turned to Jonathan because he’s a noted space travel nut deeply dismayed about the United States giving up on NASA. It was his idea to go the dystopian route, positioning NASA as humanity’s last hope in a time when the Earth (via a second Dust Bowl) finally decides to expel its unruly human tenants after centuries of abuse.
Then Spielberg’s DreamWorks went through a messy divorce with the studio, and Paramount maintained the rights to the project. They needed a new director, and their writer happened to have a brother who fit that description. Enter Christopher Nolan, who immediately set about making significant changes to the script. As such, at the time of the film’s release many enjoyed comparing Jonathan Nolan’s script from 2008 and the version of the story which made it into the film and noting how odd it was that all of the seemingly Spielbergian aspects of the film weren’t actually there in 2008. It was Christopher who turned the story into a glorified love letter to his own daughter; Jonathan’s script more seemed like the product of someone pissed at America for abandoning space travel and envious of China’s space exploration program. He originally had a fairly significant subplot involving the Chinese secretly launching their own space exploration mission, leading to scenes of our heroes fighting hordes of Chinese robots and being tricked by one of them which they briefly mistake for being their own robot. He did also have one of the main characters die while attempting to enter a wormhole, and he sure as heck didn’t have some extra dimensional tesserect Matthew McConaughey’s character enters and uses to communicate with his daughter through time. That was all Christopher Nolan. However, beyond that point the basic ending was nearly identical (McConaughey running away to hook up with Anne Hathaway, taking his best buddy the robot with him), with the main difference being that Jonathan had Matthew McConaughey meet an elderly version of his great-great-grandson instead of an elderly version of his daughter.
So, when Jonathan says his ending would have been more straight-forward he probably means he wouldn’t have had the love dimension pop up, and when he says the wormhole would have collapsed he might be referring to how it would cause the ship to explode and kill the character played in the film by Wes Bentley. Or he’s referring to a different version of the script, and this is all a reminder that films with a development cycle as lengthy as Interstellar‘s are going to have a ton of scripts and Jonathan’s talking about a version we haven’t even seen yet.