Rosanna Arquette recalls 'Desperately Seeking Susan's' deleted alternate ending

·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
·5 min read

Desperately Seeking Susan, which came out on April 12, 1985, was the ultimate ‘80s female rock ‘n roll buddy comedy, with two of the decade’s most glamorous women, Madonna and Rosanna Arquette, posing on one of the decade’s most glamorous movie posters in their matching Santo Loquasto pyramid jackets.

But the two aren’t buddies throughout most of the movie, and actually have hardly any scenes together — since, due the film’s somewhat belief-suspending plot, Arquette’s character, amnesia-stricken Fort Lee housewife Roberta Glass, spends most of the film accidentally impersonating Madonna’s free-spirited, armpit-airdrying East Villager Susan Thomas, before their worlds finally collide.

However, there was one deleted scene that featured Susan and Roberta riding off into the sunset together — on camels! Thirty-five years later, Arquette tells Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume she’s disappointed that the scene was dropped.

Desperately Seeking Susan’s alternate ending can be seen starting at the 4:25 mark below:

“We only have the end [together], and there was an ending that they cut,” Arquette gripes. “That was kind of great. It was such a great ending, and they cut it out! It was us on camels, we're hanging out together, and we were friends. We're not with the guys. We're off together.”

The axed ending, which did later end up on a DVD reissue, depicts Susan and Roberta running off together on a Sahara Desert adventure — while their beta-male love interests, personal ads enthusiast Jim (Robert Joy) and loft-dwelling bohemian Dez (Aidan Quinn), are left behind in a New York diner, pining for the ladies’ unlikely return.

Arquette says she was disappointed that the scene was left on the cutting room floor, because she didn’t want a happily-ever-after ending with Roberta and Dez. “The movie was actually a little deeper [than that]… She ends up discovering her own power in herself, by taking chances and getting out,” Arquette says of Roberta’s self-actualization journey.

A still of the deleted alternate ending to 'Desperately Seeking Susan.' (Photo: Orion Pictures)
A still of the deleted alternate ending to 'Desperately Seeking Susan.' (Photo: Orion Pictures)

Arquette says she fought to keep the original desert-pilgrimage finale intact, but when Desperately Seeking Susan was previewed at screenings, test audiences thought the film ended with the cinema/City Hall “good going, stranger!” sequence. In fact, many audience members got up and left after that scene — so it was obvious that the movie needed to wrap up earlier. Still, despite not getting the female-centric ending she wanted, Arquette has dear memories of working on such a female-driven project, in an age when this was exceedingly rare.

“Now, this movie, Desperately Seeking Susan, it had a woman director [Susan Seidelman], written by a woman [Leora Barish], women producers [Sarah Pillsbury and Midge Sanford], and the studio had Barbara Boyle at Orion, Mike Medavoy's company at the time. [Medavoy] hired [Boyle], and it was her film. The whole thing was women, and it was groundbreaking at the time. Nobody did that. It was actually a groundbreaking female force at the time.”

Arquette shares one amusing anecdote about this abundance of female energy on the set, when she got confused about whether her character was suffering from amnesia during a particular scene (since Roberta regains her memory midway through the film). “So, there was a huddle, and it was Midge Sanford, Sarah Pillsbury, Susan Seidelman, me, probably an AD woman, and we were all almost arguing and weepy. It was like... you know how they say that when girls are in school together, they end up all menstruating at the same time? That is factual thing!” Arquette laughs. “So the energy of that was going on. We had high emotions at the time. I always remembered that fondly, in a funny way.”

Rosanna Arquette and Madonna in their iconic photo shoot. (Photo: Orion Pictures)
Rosanna Arquette and Madonna in their iconic photo shoot. (Photo: Orion Pictures)

While Arquette and Madonna didn’t share much screentime, Arquette recalls “she was a good girl when we were on the set” and says they were “pals.” But Madonna was apparently going through her own not-so-happily-ever-after behind the scenes. “I remember Madonna at the time was with [producer/boyfriend] Jellybean Benitez, and they were working a lot together. She was heartbroken; I think they were in the midst of breaking up during the film, and it was very painful for her.”

While Arquette says she hasn’t seen Madonna in a long time — the last time they ran into each other was a few years ago at one of the pop diva’s legendary Oscar parties — she remains in awe of Madonna and their cinematic accomplishment. “She's still Madonna. She's amazing. And everybody from Arianna Grande to Miley [Cyrus], they owe her a debt.”

Arquette recently took to Twitter to pay tribute another one of her co-stars, Mark Blum, who played her New Jersey hot tub magnate husband Gary Glass and tragically died due to coronavirus complications on March 25.

The above interview is taken from Rosanna Arquette’s appearance on the SiriusXM show “Volume West.” Audio of this conversation is available on demand via the SiriusXM app.

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