(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you haven’t watched the finale of “The Night Of” on HBO)
“The Night Of” kept fans riveted right up until the show’s Sunday finale, which offered a mostly satisfying ending for Riz Ahmed‘s character, Nasir Khan. But the actor told TheWrap that producers toyed with other possible outcomes for the HBO limited series.
“There were a couple of possible endings and I won’t disclose what they were, but we went through a couple of different versions and I think the final pick was the best,” Ahmed told TheWrap on Friday. “It’s like this bittersweet ending, it’s the same but not quite the same for Naz. It was this bittersweet survival story.”
“The Night Of” followed Nasir Khan, who after stealing his father’s taxicab for a night in Manhattan picks up a girl named Andrea and ends up drugged up and having sex with her. A few hours later, he wakes up with no recollection of what happened in the previous few hours, but finds the girl stabbed to death on her bed.
Charged with the murder, Naz gets sent to Rikers Island, where he is forced to leave his old self behind and adapt to his new surroundings to survive.
Throughout the 10-part series, viewers watched Naz transform from a naive Pakistani-American teenager to a charged drugged-up criminal with tattoos and a shaved head.
“It was a grueling process in terms of the physical transformation,” Ahmed added. “I was going to the gym at 10:30 or 11 p.m. at night and doing these intense workouts and then sleeping for four hours and then going back to shoot. We didn’t wait for the body transformation. But mentally, it was interesting because you see Naz letting go of who he was and embracing his surroundings to survive.”
When the jury became deadlocked during its deliberations and was unable to make a decision, prosecutor Helen Weiss (Jeannie Berlin) declared that the state would not continue to prosecute Naz.
The ending of “The Night Of” left many satisfied but yet unsatisfied as Naz was set free — but wasn’t cleared of the murder of Andrea — and we still don’t know who actually committed the crime. It was an incomplete victory for Naz because he hadn’t been acquitted.
Ahmed added that one of the show’s other main characters, Jack Stone, played by John Turturro, also found redemption in the series finale.
“Stone himself had a great ending” because he came to terms with his anxiety by finding dignity in himself, learning to live with his eczema, “and living with the cat,” Ahmed explained.
And seeing as “The Night Of” was always intended to be a miniseries, fans can’t expect a second season.
“It was a grueling shoot so by the time we finished, we were ready to get some rest,” Ahmed said about the show’s conclusion.