Here’s Why Guns N’ Roses Had Dolphins in the ‘Estranged’ Music Video
If "November Rain" is Guns N' Roses' most popular video of all time, "Estranged" is certainly the weirdest. In case you've ever wondered, 'What the f--k is up with the dolphins?' we have the answer for you.
The videos for "Don't Cry," "November Rain" and "Estranged" were meant to tie together and tell a story — that story is based on the literal short story Without You, which was written by Del James, who was a good friend of the band, particularly Axl Rose. James wrote Without You based on Rose's relationship with Erin Everly, whom he was married to in 1990.
When it came time to make the videos, Rose and James decided to cast model Stephanie Seymour to play the female lead, and she and the vocalist ended up romantically involved. She starred in "Don't Cry" and "November Rain," but by the time they went to record the video for "Estranged" — which was going to continue the story told in Without You — the couple had broken up.
So, they had to improvise, and during one scene in the video, Rose jumps off a tanker boat in the Gulf of Mexico, and swims with dolphins — all in a Charles Manson shirt.
“Axl had split up with Stephanie Seymour, and he was like, ‘I don’t want any more beautiful girls in my videos; I’d rather have a dolphin,’" director Andy Morahan later explained to Kerrang!. "We knew that we were deliberately doing that so people would go, ‘What’s all that about?!’ There was a sense that it was throwing up a lot more questions than answers, and that suited everybody – it created a myth and intrigue around the whole trilogy.”
"The dolphins was to assimilate a state of peace or state of grace. It was not originally intended, but in the next scene I will be drowned and go to heaven, and I really didn’t want to shoot a heaven scene," Rose said during the "Estranged" part of Makin' F@*!Ing Videos, which was released on VHS in 1994.
"The music in the song always reminded us of whales at that particular point, and so dolphins showed up and it kind of brings all that together," he added.
The "Estranged" video was meant to be a continuation of the events in "November Rain," so if Seymour and Rose hadn't broken up, the age-old question as to how her character died would've been answered. But, if you want to find out for yourself, you can read Without You.
Oh, and the video cost them over $4 million to make.