14 Improvised Acts in Our Favorite Movies that Suddenly Turned Out to Be Ingenious
Movies are filmed with hundreds and thousands of people who can barely be controlled — especially the main actors, whose improvisation only adds to the overall charm.
Bright Side found 14 scenes where acting took a wrong turn, but in the end turned out to be everyone’s favorite part.
True Lies (1994)
During an awkward yet unexpectedly sexy strip tease scene, Jamie Lee Curtis lost her balance for real. You can see how in the background Arnold Schwarzenegger already makes a move to help Jamie, but the actress immediately composes herself and continues the show. James Cameron just loved the scene, and said it only helped to make her seem believable as an ordinary and somewhat clumsy housewife.
In one of the best scenes in the movie, in which Jack intends to draw a picture of Rose, he is meant to ask her to lie down on the couch, but instead the blushing DiCaprio says, "Lie on the bed, uh, I mean the couch." James Cameron decided to leave Leo’s mistake in the final cut — the phrase itself and the uncertainty with which it was said showed precisely how Jack was nervous at the moment.
One of the iconic phrases in the history of cinema, I’m the king of the world, was, in fact, improvised — Leonardo DiCaprio just made it up. And that’s exactly what made the scene genius and super-popular.
Annie Hall (1977)
Woodie Allen’s hero decides to try cocaine for the first time in his life. He’s warned it’s an expensive thing, so he gingerly opens the box, takes a little powder to try, and then suddenly sneezes, blowing a huge white cloud into the air. Other actors couldn’t help laughing, and that’s how an accidental sneeze made the scene a lot of fun.
Remember the scene where Viggo Mortensen kicks a steel orc’s helmet left at a burned out fire and then falls on his knees crying? Peter Jackson was very impressed with how the actor conveyed the character’s feelings of pain and troubled mind. However, the pain was quite real: Viggo broke two toes when kicking the helmet, yet never stopped acting, which made Jackson admire him even more.
During the shooting of the first movie of the trilogy, Viggo also proved he was the only choice for Aragorn. The script had it that the orc chieftain was to throw a knife in the general direction of Aragorn without aiming; however, the artificial eyes of the orc actor made him miss a little. The weapon went flying right into Viggo, but he didn’t lose control and parried it. It would’ve been a shame to cut out a scene like that.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
The scene where the heroes are lined up for an identity parade and asked to say one phrase didn’t turn into farce intentionally. All the actors were to read out the words from the paper, but some began to mumble and others made fun of it, to general laughter. There wasn’t a single serious shot, and Brian Singer, upset with the scene, left it as it was. As a result, we got one of the most recognizable scenes in the history of cinema.
Pretty Woman (1990)
One of the most famous scenes in the movie is when Edward gives Vivian a box with an expensive necklace. As soon as Julia Roberts raised her hand to it, Richard Gere suddenly closed the box, startling Julia as there was nothing like this in the script. Garry Marshall decided to keep the resultant shot, with Julia’s genuine laughter, in the final movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The charismatic and funny Chris Pratt improvises a lot by himself, but in this scene he was just clumsy — he dropped a dangerous artefact by accident and caught it near the ground. The scene emphasized Pratt’s character’s eccentricity, and remained in the final cut.
The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick managed to make a horror movie whose every moment is iconic, and one of the most recognizable ones is, of course, the scene where Jack Nicholson’s character breaks the door through with the axe and sticks his head into the hole, saying, "Here’s Johnny!" This wasn’t in the script — Jack had taken it from Johnny Carson, who began each of his night shows with this phrase.
The Dark Knight (2008)
After the Joker is put behind bars, he just watches everything quietly. Soon, he bears witness to Jim Gordon’s promotion to commissioner and the applause that follows. Seeing this, Heath Ledger began clapping his hands as well, without changing his creepy facial expression. This wasn’t in the script, yet now it’s one of the most memorable scenes in cinema history.
All Star Wars fans know and love the scene where Princess Leia confesses to Han Solo, who is about to be frozen in carbonite. The script had it that, in answer to Leia’s words “I love you“, Han was to say, ”I love you, too." However, Harrison Ford said, “I know” instead. This improvisation both helped show Ford’s character better and make the scene iconic. Rumor has it that it was shot and re-shot so many times that Harrison just couldn’t help it.
The Silence of the Lambs (1990)
One of the most terrifying scenes of the whole movie is the first conversation between Clarissa Starling and Hannibal Lecter. To his scripted phrase, "I ate his liver with some fava beans an a nice chianti," Anthony Hopkins added such an unexpected sound that Jodie Foster was absolutely horrified. She even said she’d been afraid to talk to Hopkins during breaks — that’s how convincing he was.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
In the scene where Robin Williams’ character tells the story about how his wife farted in her sleep, Matt Damon laughs so sincerely because he hadn’t expected to hear it. Robin Williams made it up on the go. This brilliant moment of improvisation helped both Damons — the actor and the character — feel a lot more comfortable in Williams’ company. If you look closely, you can even notice how the camera shakes a bit — apparently, the cameraman was about to burst out laughing himself.
Quote from the scene:
— My wife used to fart when she was nervous. And you know what? She used to fart in her sleep. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and gone, like, "Oh, was that you?" I’d say yeah...I didn’t have the heart to tell her... Oh God...