Writer-director Rian Johnson reveals he censored Chris Evans' profanity-filled Knives Out scene to prevent the movie from being rated R. Johnson got his start in Hollywood by writing and directing well received thrillers like Brick and Looper, though he's perhaps best known for tackling Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Johnson is also developing his own Star Wars trilogy. His next project is the whodunnit mystery thriller Knives Out, which boasts an A-list cast that includes Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon and Toni Collette. They're joined by Daniel Craig, who's investigating the death of Plummer's Harlan Thrombey - and more than a few members of Harlan's family are suspects.
For his part, Evans is coming off the massively successful Avengers: Endgame, which wrapped up his time as Steve Rogers aka Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As seen in the Knives Out movie trailers, Evans' Ransom Drysdale in a far cry from the Star-Spangled Man, and has quite the mouth on him in one particular scene. In actuality, Ransom's tirade is the watered down version of what Johnson originally envisioned for Evans' character.
Speaking on CinemaBlend's ReelBlend podcast, Johnson revealed the scene in which Ransom tells his family members to "eat sh-t" originally featured Evans' character repeatedly saying, "F-ck you." However, in order to prevent Knives Out from being R-rated, Johnson censored himself. The writer-director said:
When I wrote it, it was ‘F-ck you.’ He goes, ‘F-ck you, f-ck you, f-ck you, f-ck YOU…’ I decided right before we started shooting, I was like, ‘You know what? I really want this movie to be PG-13.’ Because I was thinking about growing up as a kid and watching those Peter Ustinov Poirot movies with my family and thinking that was the age when I got into this stuff. I thought, ‘You know what? Let’s make this change.’ I pulled a lot of F-bombs. There were a lot more F-bombs in this script!
Evans going on a profanity-filled rant with multiple F-bombs would've been especially ironic as a followup to his final appearance as Captain America considering one of Steve Rogers' most beloved moments in the MCU was when he chastised Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) for swearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron. That comment - a simple "Language" - was even combined with the America's ass joke in Avengers: Endgame for one of Marvel's Captain America shirts at San Diego Comic-Con this summer, proving how well remembered it is. As such, MCU fans may be sad that they missed out on the chance to see Evans' Knives Out character go in the complete opposite direction and drop multiple F-words in one scene.
That said, Johnson's reasons for cutting out many of the F-bombs, not just in that particular Evans scene, makes sense. Knives Out being PG-13 opens the film up to a larger potential audience, one that includes younger moviegoers as Johnson indicates. Since the film hasn't released yet, it's unclear whether Johnson's decision will ultimately help his latest to be a success, but early Knives Out reviews have certainly been very positive. Plus, Knives Out box office projections for its opening weekend are looking good so far. The combination of its ensemble cast, a long holiday weekend release (not to mention the early Knives Out preview screenings being held this weekend), Johnson ensuring it received a PG-13 rating and positive reviews could all contribute to the movie being a success.
As for the alternate, R-rated version of Evans' Knives Out scene, it was likely never filmed. Since Johnson made the decision to cut out the F-bombs before filming began, Evans would've only performed the scene as it appears in the final film. Still, it's no doubt a fun bit of trivia to know that Knives Out could've been rated R and included Evans dropping multiple F-bombs if Johnson had made a different decision.