Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
Most of the time, actors tend to stick to the script and execute scenes as directed. Although, when you take a closer look at some of the most iconic and glorious moments in cinematic history, most were created on the spot. Improvisation can lead to genuine and authentic reactions by cast and crew, which makes it even more enjoyable for the audience. This is a list of some of the best unscripted moments in movie history.
1. In Fast & Furious 6, The Rock actually ad-libbed an insult at Tyrese Gibson’s character Roman, causing Ludacris to actually spit out his drink from laughing so hard. According to Ludacris, who plays Tej, the cast always had fun on set. "At the end of Fast Six when I spit out my drink and laugh at The Rock's comments to Tyrese, I'd whispered to him to joke on Tyrese. So it's very organic. I was really laughing. We make real moments. We're really being ourselves."
2. In Pretty Woman, Richard Gere’s snap of the necklace box wasn’t planned, and Julia Roberts’s reaction and laughter was completely genuine. Director Gary Marshall and Gere had wanted to prank Roberts, because she often partied the night before filming and would show up a little sleepy. Marshall had therefore told the actor, "Richard, you gotta wake her up a little, so when she reaches for the box, slam it.' It was a soft box, I would never hurt her."
3. The iconic Jaws line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” was actually unscripted and ad-libbed by lead star Roy Scheider. It wasn't the first time he said the line during filming, as Scheider tried the line out at various stages of production. However, it made the final cut for the film and has since become a beloved quote.
4. The famous “You talkin’ to me?” from Taxi Driver was completely improvised by Robert DeNiro. According to the film’s writer Paul Schrader, the script just said “Bickle speaks to himself in the mirror.” For the film's 40th anniversary, the cast reunited and DeNiro addressed the crowd at the screening, stating, "Every day for 40 f****** years, at least on of you has come up to me and said -what do you think-'You talkin' to me'?'"
5. In The Shining, the classic line “Here’s Johnny” was not scripted and Jack Nicholson admitted to borrowing the ad-libbed line from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Johnny Carson himself even once used the clip of Nicholson as the introduction to one of his annual anniversary specials.
6. In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Steve Carell had never had his chest waxed and didn’t think it would hurt that bad. His name-calling of celebrities and cursing were all genuine reactions, as he vocally expressed his pain.
7. In Django Unchained, Leonardo DiCaprio accidentally cut his hand open while filming a scene but decided to stay in character and kept going. Once the scene ended, director Quentin Tarantino and Jamie Foxx gave him a standing ovation. The bloody take was included in the final product.
8. In The Dark Knight, the scene where the Joker (the late Heath Ledger) comes out of the hospital dressed as a nun was improvised. The buildings were supposed to collapse after Ledger pressed the buttons, however they stopped midway. The actor stayed in character, and played out the scene by repeatedly pressing the buttons as if the remote wasn’t working. When they finally exploded, director Christopher Nolan like his reaction so much it stayed in the film.
9. In The Silence of the Lambs, when Dr. Hannibal Lecter tells Claric Starling that he killed a census taker and “ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”, he makes a hissing sound. This was not scripted and Anthony Hopkins made the noise because it actually scared Jodie Foster.
10. In Titanic, when Rose (Kate Winslet) spits in Cal’s (Billy Zane) face, that action was an idea made up by Winslet and only she and director James Cameron knew about it. Billy Zane's reaction was genuine and made the final cut.
11. In Guardians of the Galaxy, during the criminals' arrest and line-up, Star-Lord cranking up his finger was completely improvised by Chris Pratt. Director James Gunn then told him to add an apology at the end, and the hilarious scene was complete.
12. In Bridesmaids, during the Air Marshall interrogation scene, the mid-air exchange between Melissa McCarthy's character and "Air Marshall John" was completely improvised. McCarthy is actually married to the actor who portrayed the Marshall, Ben Falcone, and he admitted he laughed so hard that he ruined multiple takes.
13. In The Wolf of Wall-Street, Matthew McConaughey's bizarre chest-thumping and chanting was thought up by the actor himself. In fact, the strange action has been part of his personal preparation routine for many years. When asked about the inspiration behind it, the actor said "That's something I'll do before scenes to relax myself, get my voice to drop. I've been doing it for a while. But it's just something I do to relax myself, get out of my head."
14. During the iconic line-up scene in The Usual Suspects, there was a reason the cast members couldn't keep a straight face. Benicio Del Toro kept farting, which continuously cracked up the others. Director Bryan Singer decided to keep the take, which initially called for the cast to be stoic. The actors' reaction was genuine and broke the tension from the previous scenes.
15. In Thor: The Dark World, when Thor decided to hang his magical hammer on a coat rack, that was actually a move Chris Hemsworth did goofing around in between takes. The rest of the cast and crew that it was hilarious, and the moment was put into the final film.
© 2018 Rachel M Johnson