Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet


Being John Malkovich

Written by Charlie Kaufman
Directed by Spike Jonze
Running time: 107 minutes
Year: 1999

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet


PROTAGONIST: Craig Schwartz, 30-something struggling puppeteer
CHARACTERIZATION/MAIN MISBEHAVIOR: Narcissist / Disenchanted with reality
EXTERNAL GOAL: To be a famous puppeteer / To be with Maxine
INTERNAL GOAL: To feel important
THEME(S): Be yourself / Celebrity / Escapism / Transsexualism / Voyeurism
CENTRAL DRAMATIC QUESTION: Will Craig win over Maxine and become a famous puppeteer?
ENDING: Craig gives up being John Malkovich for Maxine.
ARC: Craig goes from a struggling puppeteer to world renowned success in puppetry being John Malkovich, but ultimately gives it up for the woman he loves.

Being John Malkovich Story Engines


Struggling puppeteer Craig Schwartz finds a portal into the mind of John Malkovich at work. He shares it with Maxine, the co-worker he lusts after, and she devises a business scheme for them to profit from it.

Craig’s wife Lotte experiences being John Malkovich and it makes her realize she’s a transsexual. Like Craig, she becomes infatuated with Maxine. Maxine rejects Craig and desires Lotte, but only when Lotte’s inside Malkovich.

Overcome with jealousy, Craig pulls a gun on Lotte, forces her to setup a date with Maxine, and imprisons her in a cage. He then finds a way to control Malkovich during a fuck session with Maxine. Later, Lotte escapes and consults Lester (Craig’s boss) on the Malkovich situation. Lester reveals that Malkovich is a vessel to live forever. When Craig finds a way to stay inside Malkovich for more than fifteen minutes, Maxine asks him to be Malkovich forever, which Craig agrees to.

Maxine is pregnant with Malkovich’s child and Craig, as Malkovich, has found world renowned success as a puppeteer. After a performance, Malkovich returns home and finds Maxine missing. Lester calls and says he’ll kill Maxine if Craig doesn’t leave Malkovich, but Craig refuses. Later, drunk and guilt-ridden, Craig, as Malkovich, calls Lester and tells him he’ll leave if he spares Maxine. Craig leaves and Lester and his followers enter the portal. When Maxine rejects Craig for the final time, he declares his intent on taking Malkovich from Lester, a task Lester deemed impossible.

Lester, as Malkovich, shows Charlie Sheen their next vessel, Emily, Maxine and Lotte’s daughter born of Malkovich and Maxine. Maxine and Lotte live a happy life with Emily. Craig is trapped inside Emily’s subconscious, forced to view the woman he loves love another.

Being John Malkovich Full Beat Sheet



Sequence I: Craig Swartz is a struggling puppeteer whose wife Lotte supports him. During a street performance, he doesn’t realize a child is watching his marionettes simulate masturbation and is punched in the face by her father.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Opening Images

2- OPENING IMAGE & DANCE OF DESPAIR AND DISILLUSIONMENT SETUP: A curtain opens to a marionette on a stage. After a few contemplative moments, the puppet erupts into violence and destroys the set.

3 – The marionette looks just like its manipulator, CRAIG SCHWARTZ. Arched over a tiny stage, Craig guides the puppet into an intricate balletic piece. It culminates with the puppet collapsing on the stage and weeping.

3 – Craig takes a swig of beer and wipes sweat from his brow.

4 – A parrot wakes Craig in the morning. LOTTE, Craig’s wife, apologizes, takes the parrot off his head. As she leaves for work, she suggests he look for a job to make himself feel better.

5 – Craig watches a TV segment on Derek Mantini, whom the announcer calls “the greatest puppeteer in the history of the world,” with Lotte’s pet chimpanzee, ELIJAH.


(to Elijah)

You don’t know how lucky you are being a monkey, because consciousness is a terrible curse.

7 – Craig performs on the street with two marionettes. Unbeknownst to Craig, a little girl watches the show. When the marionettes begin simulating masturbation, the girl’s father punches Craig in the face.

7 – Craig appears at Lotte’s pet shop with a busted lip. Lotte consoles him.


Honey, not again. Why do you do this to yourself?


I’m a puppeteer.


Sequence II: Craig takes a job filing documents at LesterCorp and becomes attracted to a co-worker named Maxine.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Looking for a Man with Fast Hands

8 – Searching the classifieds, Craig comes across a job post that says, “Looking for a man with fast hands.”

8 – Craig arrives at the building for his job interview. LesterCorp is listed on floor 7 1/2.

9 – There’s no button for the 7 1/2 floor. Stopping the elevator, a woman helps Craig, using a crowbar to open the doors to the floor. The ceilings are much lower than normal, forcing everyone to crouch as they walk.

10 – Craig checks in with the receptionist FLORIS regarding his interview, but for some reason, she can’t understand what he says.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Dr. Lester

11-13 – DR. LESTER interviews Craig, exhibits more strange behavior, communication problems. Lester has Craig arrange note cards, a task that showcases Craig’s fast hands.

13 – Lester gives Craig a job.

14 – Craig watches an orientation video.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Inciting Incident

14 – INCITING INCIDENT: Craig spots MAXINE. She smokes a cigarette and reads The New Yorker.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Captain Mertin

15 – LESTER IS MERTIN SETUP: The video explains that the floor was made for little people by James Mertin, the man who built the building in the late 1800’s. In a nineteenth century fashioned office, two actors tell the tale of what led to the bizarre height of the floor.


Captain Mertin, surely I am God-fearing Christian woman like yourself, but alas, I am afraid that the world was not built with me in mind. Door knobs are too high, chairs are unwieldily, high-ceilinged rooms mock my stature. Nor am I a married lady, Captain. After all, who would marry a person of my diminutiveness? So I am forced to work for my few pennies a week as an optometrist. Why cannot there be a place for me to work safe and comfortable?

Mertin wipes a tear from his eye.


Woman, your story moves me like no other. Me own sister was tiny and then died. Therefore, I shall make ye my wife. And I shall build a floor in my building, between the 7th and 8th, which will be scaled down, so from now on there shall be at least one place on God’s green Earth that you and your accursed kind can live in peace...

16 – Craig introduces himself to Maxine. She comments that Mertin’s story is “bullshit.” He attempts to continue the conversation, but she blows him off.


Sequence III: Lotte wants a baby, but Craig doesn’t feel the time is right. At work, Craig asks Maxine out for a drink.

16 – Craig and Lotte prepare dinner. There are many pets in their apartment: a parrot so loud it pisses off the neighbor; Elijah, the chimp; a dog, and more.

17 – Lotte asks Craig about having a baby. He wants to wait, explaining stress with finances and his new job. Though she doesn’t say it, Lotte’s reaction suggests her disappointment.

17 – Back at LesterCorp, Craig attempts to make small talk with Maxine. She immediately accuses him of hitting on her, stating further that he wouldn’t know what to do if he got her.

18 – Floris hits on Craig as he files documents.

19 – Lester scolds Craig for hitting on Floris. Craig assures him that he wasn’t. Lester calms down, comments that he wishes he were a young man. Craig’s surprised to learn Lester’s 105 years old.

20 – Lester speaks of his desire for Floris and Craig cuts him off when he gets inappropriate. Lester then invites him for a drink after work so he can “spill his goddamn guts.”

21 – Craig stops Maxine with a proposition: if he can guess her name in under three tries, she must have a drink with him. When he guesses her name, she tells him to meet her at the Stuck Pig at exactly 7pm.


Sequence IV: Craig meets Maxine for drinks, but she leaves after he reveals that he’s a puppeteer. Back at home, his infatuation with Maxine intensifies. He creates a marionette of her and performs, fantasizing about her reciprocating interest in him.

22 – At the Juiceteria, Craig listens to Lester pontificate on his sexual fantasies as the clock inches closer to 7pm. Craig finally cuts it short. As he gets up, Lester invites him and Lotte to dinner. Craig accepts.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet SMF

23-24 – STRONG MOVEMENT FORWARD: Craig arrives in time to meet Maxine, who immediately comments on his wedding ring. He admits his attraction, which she finds flattering. When Craig tells her he’s a puppeteer, she leaves.

25 – Craig arrives home and apologizes to Lotte for not calling her, telling her that he was with Lester.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Craig Creates Maxine Marionette

25 – Craig creates a marionette of Maxine in his workshop.

26-27 – Craig performs with marionettes of Maxine and himself; a fantasy where Maxine shows interest in him and his art.


Craig works the Craig and Maxine puppets. The puppets sit on the edge of the small stage and chat. Craig does a fair impersonation of Maxine’s voice.


(as Maxine, fascinated)

Tell me, Craig, why do you love puppeteering?

(as Craig)

Well, Maxine, I’m not sure exactly. Perhaps it’s the idea of becoming someone else for a little while. Being inside another skin. Moving differently, thinking differently, feeling differently.

(as Maxine)

Interesting. Would you like to be inside my skin, Craig? Think what I think? Feel what I feel?

(as Craig)

More than anything, Maxine.

(as Maxine)

It’s good in here, Craig. Better than your wildest dreams.

The puppets kiss.


Sequence V: Craig finds a portal to the mind of John Malkovich at LesterCorp. He shares it with Maxine, who blows him off at first, but later comes up with a business scheme which Craig agrees to.

27 – The next day at work, Maxine belittles Craig, saying she’s not interested because he plays with dolls. Craig still professes his love, but she could care less.

Being John Malkovich End of Act One Turn

28-30 – END OF ACT ONE TURN: Behind a file cabinet, Craig discovers a small door that opens to a dark tunnel. He crawls inside and is pulled toward a light as if being sucked through a straw.

31 – The POV of someone reading a newspaper and eating breakfast. The man looks in the mirror: it’s John Malkovich.

32 – Malkovich takes a cab. The cabbie recognizes him, asks him questions about films he never starred in. The POV pulls back and…

32 – Craig falls from the sky into a ditch on the Jersey Turnpike.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Act I Decision

33-35 – DECISION: Craig races back to the office and tells Maxine about the portal.


There’s a tiny door in my office, Maxine. It’s a portal and it takes you inside John Malkovich. You see the world through John Malkovich’s eyes, then, after about fifteen minutes, you’re spit out into a ditch on the side of The New Jersey Turnpike.

35 – Maxine walks out on Craig.

36 – Maxine calls Craig at home. She wants to charge $200 for tickets to John Malkovich.


Sequence I: When Craig tells Lotte of his new business, she insists on experiencing Malkovich for herself, which Craig permits. Lotte enjoys the experience so much that she wants to do it again, but Craig reminds her of their dinner with Lester. At Lester’s house, Lotte finds a room filled with Malkovich pictures.

37 – Craig explains his new business with Lotte on the way to dinner with Lester. When she insists on experiencing Malkovich and meeting his new business partner, Craig talks her into the portal before dinner.

38 – Lotte goes inside John Malkovich and loves it. She pops out on The New Jersey Turnpike and wants to go back immediately.

39 – Lotte goes on and on about her experience in the car. She wants to go back, but Craig reminds her of their dinner with Lester.


I have to go back, Craig. Being inside did something to me. All of a sudden everything made sense. I knew who I was.


You weren’t you. You were John Malkovich.



I was, wasn’t I? I was John fucking Malkovich!

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Malkovich Room at Lester's House

41 – At dinner with Lester, Lotte excuses herself to go to the restroom. Searching for the restroom, she stumbles upon a room of John Malkovich pictures. Each picture represents a different year of his life. Lotte is fascinated.

42 – In the car, Lotte goes on and on about Malkovich, commenting that the portal is vaginal. She’s enthralled with the thought of his feminine side.


Sequence II: Lotte appears at LesterCorp and tells Craig that the experience inside Malkovich has made her realize she’s transsexual. While inside Malkovich, Lotte coerces Malkovich into dating Maxine. Later, Lotte dates Maxine inside Malkovich and falls in love with Maxine.

43 – Lotte appears at LesterCorp, finds Craig with Maxine. Lotte wants back inside Malkovich.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet First Trial First Casualty

44-45 – FIRST TRIAL / FIRST CASUALTY: Craig pulls Lotte aside and she tells him that the experience in the portal has made her realize she’s a transsexual.


I’ve been going over and over my experience last night. It was amazing.


I’ve decided that I’m a transsexual. Isn’t that the craziest thing?


What, are you nuts?


Everything felt right for the first time. I’ve gotta make sure, but if the feeling is still there, I’m going to speak to Dr. Feldman about sexual reassignment surgery.


This is absurd. Besides Feldman’s an allergist. If you’re going to do something, do it right.


It’s just the thrill of seeing through someone else’s eyes. It’ll pass.


Don’t stand in the way of my actualization as a man.

46 – While Lotte’s inside Malkovich, Maxine calls and asks him to dinner at 8pm, but Malkovich hangs up on her.

47 – Lotte repeatedly instructs Malkovich to “meet her there.” Seconds before she’s thrown out of the portal, he writes down the restaurant.

47 – Lotte pops out onto The New Jersey Turnpike. She tells Craig she must go back at 8pm.

48 – Malkovich meets Maxine for dinner with Lotte inside him.

49 – Maxine flirts with Malkovich. Lotte gets off on it.

49 – In the car, Lotte lies to Craig, claiming Malkovich was just sitting around his apartment.


So how was it? What was he doing?


Oh, you know, not a lot. Just hanging around his apartment. I think he must be a lonely man.


You see, men can feel unfulfilled, too. I’m glad you’re realizing that. You shouldn’t be so quick to assume that switching bodies would be the answer to all your problems.


You’re right.

50 – Changing the subject, she says she wants to invite Maxine over for dinner. Craig attempts to dismiss the idea, but Lotte insists.


Sequence III: Craig and Lotte have Maxine over for dinner. They both attempt to kiss her, but she won’t have either of them. She does, however, desire Lotte, but only when Lotte’s inside Malkovich.

50 – Craig and Maxine close their first customer.

52-53 – Craig and Lotte have dinner with Maxine. They both want her.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Midpoint

54 – MIDPOINT: While Maxine talks, Craig and Lotte attempt to kiss her at the same time. She slaps Craig, tells him she doesn’t find him attractive. To Lotte, she says she’s only into her when she’s being Malkovich.


Lotte, I’m smitten with you, but only when you’re in Malkovich. When I looked into his eyes last night, I could feel you peering out. Behind the stubble and the too-prominent brow and the male pattern baldness, I sensed your feminine longing peering out, and it just slew me.

55 – Lotte attempts to make a move on Maxine, but Maxine reiterates “only as John.” Maxine leaves. Craig and Lotte sit silent on the couch.


Sequence I: Lotte makes love with Maxine as Malkovich. Overcome with jealousy, Craig pulls a gun on Lotte and forces her to setup a date with Maxine. He then imprisons Lotte in a cage with their pet chimp Elijah.

55 – Business picks up. Lotte calls Maxine and they setup a time to be with Malkovich.

56 – Maxine arrives at Malkovich’s. He caresses her breast in the doorway, but she stops him, explaining that she’s early.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Malkovich and Maxine

57-58 – Feeling Lotte’s inside him, Maxine gets on top of Malkovich and says, “I love you, Lotte.” Malkovich, Maxine and Lotte make love.

Malkovich’s POV as maxine begins to unbutton Malkovich’s shirt.


Oh my darling. Oh my sweetheart.


I love you, Lotte.





I’m sorry, did you just call me “Lotte”?


Do you mind?



No, not really.

They get back to it.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Lotte New Jersey Turnpike

58 – Lotte falls into The New Jersey Turnpike ditch, lays there hopelessly in love.

59 – Lotte arrives home to find Craig up. Craig is hurt. They argue.


You were him last night, weren’t you?





And he was with her.


We love her, Craig. I’m sorry.




Me and John.


Don’t forget me.


Well, you have the Maxine action figure to play with.

59 – At work, Craig ignores Floris and files paperwork.

60 – Craig confronts Maxine at LesterCorp. Amused by Craig’s suffering, she toys with him.


(matter of fact)

I’ve fallen in love.


I don’t think so. I’ve fallen in love. This is what people who’ve fallen in love look like.


You picked the unrequited variety. Very bad for the skin.


You’re evil, Maxine.


Do you have any idea what its like to have two people look at you with total lust and devotion through the same pair of eyes? No, I don’t suppose you would. It’s quite a thrill, Craig.

Craig turns and walks out the door.

61 – Craig runs out of the office to his apartment.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Act II-B

61-63 – When Lotte comes home Craig pulls a gun on her. He forces her to call Maxine and insist they meet. Maxine agrees and Craig locks Lotte in Elijah’s cage.


Sequence II: Whilst being Malkovich, Craig finds a way to control his movements and speech during a fuck session with Maxine. Malkovich freaks out and leaves Maxine’s apartment.

63 – At the theater, Malkovich spots Maxine and ends rehearsal.

64 – Malkovich and Maxine screw. Craig gains control of Malkovich’s words and movements. Malkovich freak outs and Craig is thrown out of the portal.


Malkovich and Maxine are having sex on Maxine’s couch.


Lotte, this is so good...


(tense, commanding)

Move right hand across her left breast now. Move right hand across her left breast now. Move right hand across her left breast now.

Malkovich clumsily, awkwardly moves his hand across Maxine’s breast.


Holy shit, yes!


Holy shit, yes!


Holy shit! He said what I said!


Holy shit! He said what I said!


Lotte? Is that you?


Yes, yes, sweetheart, yes!


Yes, yes, sweetheart, yes!


What the fuck is going on? I’m not talking. This is not me!


Oh, Lotte...

Maxine kisses Malkovich hard on the lips. There is a sucking sound.



There is a pop and Craig lands in the ditch.

65 – Feeling he was being controlled, Malkovich freaks out and leaves Maxine’s apartment.

65 – Craig comes home to Lotte, still in the cage, and boasts about his new abilities.


A wet mess Craig sits next to Lotte’s cage. Lotte is bound and gagged.


I did it, sweetie. I moved his arm across your girlfriend’s glorious tit. And, oh, I made him talk, sort of. It’s just a matter of practice before Malkovich becomes nothing more than another puppet hanging next to my worktable.


Sequence III: Paranoid over the experience, Malkovich tails Maxine and discovers the business. He confronts Craig and Maxine and Craig tells him the truth. Malkovich enters the portal and discovers a bizarre world. Back in reality, he threatens to sue Craig.

66-67 – Paranoid, Malkovich talks about the ordeal with Charlie Sheen. Sheen advises to continue having sex with Maxine, but Malkovich only wants to know the truth.

67 – In disguise, Malkovich follows Maxine to LesterCorp, takes the elevator with all her customers.

68-69 – A waiting customer reveals to the disguised Malkovich that he can be John Malkovich for fifteen minutes. Malkovich confronts Craig and Maxine, demands to know what it’s all about.

70 – After Craig spills the beans, Malkovich insists on experiencing the portal for himself.


What happens when a man climbs through his own portal?


We’ll see.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Malkovich Malkovich

71 – Malkovich enters the portal. He’s transported to night club where everyone has his face. The only words spoken or written are “Malkovich.” Malkovich panics.


Malkovich pops into a chair in a swank night club. He’s wearing a tuxedo. The woman across the table from him is also Malkovich, but in a gown. He looks around the restaurant. Everyone is Malkovich in different clothes. Malkovich is panicked. The girl Malkovich across the table looks at him seductively, winks and talks.


Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich...

Malkovich looks confused. The Malkovich waiter approaches, pen and pad in hand, ready to take their orders.


Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich?


Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich.


Malkovich Malkovich.

(Turning to Malkovich)


Malkovich looks down at the menu. Every item is “Malkovich.” He screams:



The waiter jots it down on his pad.



Malkovich pushes himself away from the table and runs for the exit. He passes the stage where a girl singer Malkovich is singing sensuously into the microphone. She is back by a ’40’s style big band of Malkoviches.


Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich...

Malkovich flies through the back door.

72-73 – Malkovich pops out of the portal on the turnpike and finds Craig waiting. Malkovich is angry…


I have been to the dark side. I have seen a world that no man should ever see.


Really? For most people it’s a rather pleasant experience.


This portal is mine and must be sealed up forever. For the love of God.


With all respect, sir, I discovered that portal. It’s my livelihood.


It’s my head, Schwartz, and I’ll see you in court.

Malkovich trudges off along the shoulder of the turnpike.


(calling after him)

And who’s to say I won’t be seeing what you’re seeing... in court?


Sequence IV: Craig tricks Lotte into setting up another date with Maxine. When he leaves, Elijah the chimp unties Lotte. Lotte calls and warns Maxine about Craig, but when Maxine discovers Craig was controlling Malkovich, she loses interest in Lotte. After Craig takes over Malkovich, Maxine reveals Lotte’s escape and her knowledge of Craig being Malkovich.

73-74 – Seemingly guilt-ridden, Craig tells Lotte he’ll let her out of the cage. He climbs inside the cage and picks up the phone.

75 – In her office, Maxine answers a call from Lotte wanting to meet her in Malkovich again.

75 – Craig leaves Lotte in the cage with Elijah. Lotte cries and Elijah notices her hands tied behind her back.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Elijah Flashback

75-76 – ELIJAH FLASHBACK: Elijah remembers his capture. He attempted to save his parents by uniting them, but was unable to do it before the trappers came back and captured him.

76 – Elijah unties Lotte.

77 – Lotte calls Maxine, says Craig has been the one inside Malkovich recently. Now knowing it was Craig controlling Malkovich, not Lotte, Maxine loses interest in Lotte.

79 – Maxine arrives at Malkovich’s apartment. Malkovich claims he’s going to sue both her and Craig, but tenses up in a puppet-like manner.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Assumption of Power

79 – ASSUMPTION OF POWER: Craig begins controlling Malkovich’s body and speech. Maxine reveals Lotte’s warning: She knows Malkovich is Craig and is turned on by Craig’s control of him.


Sequence V: Lotte consults Lester on the Malkovich situation and he reveals that Malkovich is a vessel in which to live forever. He states they must enter Malkovich by midnight of Malkovich’s forty-fourth birthday. When Craig finds a way to stay inside Malkovich for more than fifteen minutes, Maxine asks him to be Malkovich forever. The next day they both go to his agent’s office and make it clear Malkovich is now a puppeteer, not an actor.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Lester is Mertin Payoff

80-82 – LESTER IS MERTIN PAYOFF: Lotte arrives at Dr. Lester’s home, questions him about Malkovich. Lester confesses he’s not Lester, but Captain Mertin. Many years ago he discovered a way to transfer from body to body and never die.


What is this strange power that Malkovich exudes? You’ve got to help me understand because all I think about is wanting to be him.


Wanting to what?


Wanting to be him. Wanting to be John Malkovich!


I see. Well, perhaps you can.


But Dr. Lester --


I am not Dr. Lester. I’m Captain Mertin.


I don’t understand.


It was ninety years ago that I discovered a strange portal and I found that this portal led to a vessel body and that I could live forever by leaping from vessel to vessel.


So Dr. Lester is a such a vessel?


Yes he is.

82 – In bed, Craig, as Malkovich, confesses to Maxine that he knows how to control Malkovich and not leave after fifteen minutes. Maxine is amazed.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Doomed Craig Setup

83 – DOOMED CRAIG SETUP: Dr. Lester explains that Malkovich will be his next vessel. He must enter Malkovich by midnight on Malkovich’s 44th birthday or risk being transported into the next vessel (a new born baby) where he will be trapped, unable to control it, and forced to witness its life.


This illustrates how I will move into my next vessel, Malkovich, on his forty-fourth birthday. That’s when he becomes ripe. But I must enter by midnight on that day. After that, I’d get diverted into the next newly forming infant vessel. I don’t want that to happen. I’d be absorbed.


Absorbed? What does that mean?


Well, trapped, held prisoner, if you like, in the host’s brain, unable to control anything. Forever doomed to watch the world through someone else’s eyes.

84 – Lester claims he’s discovered a way to bring more people with him. He brings her into his living room where she finds many elderly people.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Craig's Dance of Despair and Disillusionment

84-85 – DANCE OF DESPAIR AND DISILLUSIONMENT PAYOFF: Maxine asks Malkovich to perform. He performs “Craig’s Dance of Despair and Disillusionment.” Malkovich breaks a mirror and trashes his room, just like the marionette at the beginning of the film.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet End of Act Two Turn

86 – END OF ACT TWO TURN: Maxine asks Craig to stay in Malkovich forever.


Stay in him forever?


(as Malkovich, screaming)


(as Craig, calmly)

But how will we make a living, my love, if our clientele doesn’t have access to our product?


Well, we’ll have all the money in Malkovich’s bank account, plus he still gets acting work occasionally.


(as Malkovich, breaking through)

No! Please!

(as Craig, to Malkovich)

Shut up, will you? We’re trying to think here.

(to Maxine)

It is sort of like being a puppeteer. I like that about it.


No one would ever have to know its not him.


(an idea)

And I could use Malkovich’s existing notoriety to launch my puppeteering career.


Oh, Craiggy, that’s brilliant!

87-88 – Lester offers Lotte a place in Malkovich along with the others, but she has one thing to confess about Malkovich first…

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet End of Act Two Decision

88 – DECISION: Craig, as Malkovich, meets with Malkovich’s agent, introduces Maxine as his fiancé. He instructs the agent that Malkovich is no longer an actor — he’s a puppeteer.


Sequence I: Maxine is pregnant with Malkovich’s child. A news segment reveals Malkovich has brought on a renaissance in puppeteering. Maxine, however, has lost interest in Malkovich and still longs for Lotte.


90-92 – Malkovich watches a news segment on his new puppeteering career. His performances have brought on a renaissance in puppeteering.

92 – The segment moves into Malkovich’s relationship with Maxine and the support she gave him in relaunching his career.

92 – Lotte watches with Lester and the group. Lester consoles her, saying that the travesty will be over by morning.

93 – The segment continues with gossip about Maxine withdrawing from the limelight and her husband’s affections since her pregnancy.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Lotte Marionette Act III

93 – Pregnant Maxine is seen in the baby’s room, leaning into the crib. In the crib is the marionette of Lotte. Maxine caresses it and says, “I’m sorry.”

94 – The segment concludes with an optimistic view on Malkovich’s future…



Once a poet said the puppeteer’s voice need not merely be the record of man. It can be one of the pillars, the props, to help him endure and prevail. And I believe that.

94 – Malkovich gets ready to leave. Maxine continues to ignore him.


Sequence II: After a performance, Malkovich returns home and finds Maxine missing. Lester calls and says he’ll kill Maxine if Craig doesn’t leave Malkovich, but Craig refuses. At LesterCorp, Lotte pulls a gun on Maxine and Maxine darts into the portal. A chase ensues through Malkovich’s subconscious. They end up being spit out on the Jersey Turnpike where Maxine reveals that Lotte is the father of Malkovich’s child.

95-96 – Surrounded by ballet dancers, Malkovich performs Swan Lake with a life-sized marionette fashioned after Craig. The crowd gives him a standing ovation.

96 – Malkovich returns home, finds Maxine missing. The phone rings…

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Point of No Return

97 – POINT OF NO RETURN: Lester demands that Craig leave Malkovich’s body or they will kill Maxine, but Craig can’t do it. He can’t go back to being a nobody; to being poor.

98 – Lester hangs up. Lotte and the followers surround him. He says, ”He called our bluff.” Lotte insists they go into the portal, but Lester claims Craig is too powerful to overcome.

98 – Lotte pulls a gun on Maxine. She shoots at her, but Maxine darts into the portal unscathed. Lester tries to stop Lotte, as Maxine is carrying Malkovich’s seed, their next vessel, but Lotte chases Maxine into the portal.

99-100 – Lotte hunts Maxine through Malkovich’s subconscious.

100-101 – Lotte and Maxine are spit out of Malkovich’s subconscious onto the turnpike. Maxine grabs the gun, but instead of shooting Lotte, apologizes. She states that she got pregnant when Lotte was inside Malkovich and that she only kept it because Lotte was the father.


Sequence III: Drunk and guilt-ridden, Craig, as Malkovich, calls Lester and tells him that he’ll leave if he spares Maxine. Craig leaves and Lester and his followers enter the portal. Craig is then spit out on the turnpike where he finds Lotte and Maxine. He professes his love for Maxine, but she doesn’t care. As she leaves with Lotte, he announces his intent to kick Lester out of Malkovich.

102 – Malkovich drinks at a bar. A fan recognizes him, but he claims he’s not Malkovich. The two men get into a fight and Malkovich gets his ass kicked.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Climax

103 – CLIMAX: Malkovich calls Lester and begs him to spare Maxine. With pressure from Lester, Craig leaves Malkovich’s body.

103 – Lester instructs all his followers to enter the portal.

103 – Craig falls into the ditch on the turnpike.

104 – Lester waits on Lotte as long as possible. He enters the portal and takes over Malkovich.

Being John Malkovich Craig End of Act III

105 – Craig finds Lotte and Maxine on the turnpike. He professes his love for Maxine, but she flags a ride with Lotte and leaves. As the car pulls away, Craig screams for Maxine, saying that he’ll go back into the portal and kick out Lester.


Sequence I: Malkovich shows Charlie Sheen their next vessel, Emily, Maxine and Lotte’s daughter born of Malkovich and Maxine. Maxine and Lotte live a happy life with Emily, but Craig is trapped inside, forced to view the world through her eyes.


105 – Charlie Sheen meets with Malkovich. Malkovich, now married to Floris, dresses similar to Lester.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Emily's Room

106 – Malkovich leads Sheen up the stairs, asks if he’s interested in living forever. The two men walk into a room with pictures of Emily, Lotte and Maxine’s daughter.

107 – Maxine, Lotte, and Emily enjoy the day at a public pool. They are a happy family.

Being John Malkovich Beat Sheet Lotte and Maxine

107 – DOOMED CRAIG PAYOFF: Craig is inside Emily’s subconscious. Seeing Lotte and Maxine in love is torture. He longs for Maxine, but can’t do a thing about it, as he’s a prisoner inside Emily.

Being John Malkovich Closing Images

107 – CLOSING IMAGES: Emily swims underwater.

107 – THE END.

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William Robert Rich
William Robert Rich

William Robert Rich is a story analyst, screenwriter, and co-author of Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. He's currently based in Austin, Texas.

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