By the end we learn that Oliver was no meek innocent at the beginning. This solidly middle class boy who lied about his tragic upbringing carefully schemed his way into Felix’s life, and systematically dispatched his relatives, working it out so Saltburn would ultimately be his. And then he dances.
In the script, Keoghan says, it was simply written that Oliver strides nude through his new abode, but during filming they decided it needed something more. “I thought dancing was way better because we all do it,” he says. “We all fecking move our body and act silly when there’s no one around and we all do that in our comfy space to be honest.”
To prepare Keoghan for the dancing, the production brought on Polly Bennett, a choreographer who had served as Austin Butler’s movement coach on Elvis. Keoghan worked with Bennett, who he calls a “legend,” to figure out how Oliver would move. “There were a lot of things that I was kind of like, No, my hips don’t move that way, sorry they just don’t go there,'” he remembers. “Especially when you’re naked it’s a different ball game as well.”
Keoghan thinks the actual shooting of the scene was more awkward for others on set—who may have not known where to look—than for himself. He felt truly comfortable around Fennell and her crew, putting his trust in them. They did around 11 takes in total. “I was exhausted by the end of it,” he says. “But I was, we’ve got to get this. It’s an iconic moment we have to get it right.”
As it plays out in the movie, the scene is a dose of deranged joy that caps off the wild ride, but Keoghan doesn’t read it as a happy ending for Oliver, even though he might have gotten everything he wanted through malicious means. “I don’t think he’s fulfilled,” he says. “I don’t think it’s the house he wants. I don’t think that’s the thing. I think that’s the result of what’s happened. He’s left with the manor. It’s playing with his toys too hard. He broke them. It’s almost like when you play with your action [figure] and you pull the arm off. It’s like, ‘oh shit.'”