The movie world is as unpredictable as life. Sometimes what we see on the screen is not planned in advance, and really talented actors try to put a part of themselves into the process: some make things more dramatic, some make them more interesting, and some don’t like strict lines. That’s why actors’ improvisation often makes movies more lively and interesting.
1. 300, 2007
The famous yell of King Leonidas “This is Sparta!” which became one of the most popular memes on the internet is the actor Gerard Butler’s improvisation. Not long ago, he revealed this to GQ in an interview. The director’s idea was that Gerard Butler’s character was supposed to whisper this phrase quietly and then kick the Persian messenger into the well. But the actor asked for another take. According to his words, nobody expected him to yell this loudly, so his colleagues could barely keep themselves from laughing. But the director loved the scene so much that he decided to keep it in the film.
2. Titanic, 1997
The phrase Jack screams when he is at the nose of the Titanic, “I am the king of the world!” was Leonardo DiCaprio’s idea that the director loved. Besides, in the scene where Jack draws Rose naked, he made a mistake. According to the script, DiCaprio had to say “Over on the bed” but he ended up saying “Over on the bed… ugh… the couch.” So, the actor made a mistake and corrected himself quickly and director James Cameron decided not to do another take of this episode. He explained that this way, the viewers would understand what the young man was thinking.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, 2011
The episode from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where Voldemort hugs Draco, as if saying “Welcome home,” was Ralph Fiennes’ idea. In the script, the character was supposed to just walk by, but Fiennes thought that was too boring. In the end, the scene looked pretty awkward and creepy and it highlighted the fact that the Dark Lord is absolutely incapable of having good feelings.
4. Call Me By Your Name, 2017
In the drama Call Me by Your Name, the most memorable scene is the last shot where the character of Timothée Chalamet just looks into the camera for 2 seconds as if he is looking right into your heart. This powerful move was done by the young actor himself. It is not surprising that Timothée was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor and he became the youngest nominee in this category since 1938.
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981
In the script, Indiana Jones was supposed to fight the bad guy with a sword and it was planned to be a long fight scene. Everything was prepared for the shooting of this epic scene but the day before, actor Harrison Ford got food poisoning and he wasn’t ready for a long fight. So, instead of a sword fight, he just pulled out his gun and shot the guy. This part became iconic.
6. The Godfather, 1972
“Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” is a quote from the legendary movie The Godfather and it is one of the most popular phrases from the film. The second part of this phrase is pure improvisation from actor Richard S. Castellano. He was supposed to just say “Leave the gun” but Castellano added the cannoli part because he remembered a different scene where his wife asks him to bring home this Italian dessert.
The first fight where Brad Pitt’s character Tyler explains what the fight club even is, is a partial improvisation of Edward Norton and director David Fincher. In the beginning, Norton’s character was supposed to hit Pitt on the shoulder, but just before the shooting, the director asked him to do something unexpected. And Edward had no better idea than to punch an unsuspecting Brad in the ear. So, Pitt’s yells and Norton’s apologies looked very realistic.
8. Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011
The impressive scene where Captain America gets his perfect body also has an element of improvisation to it. In this episode, actress Hayley Atwell didn’t follow the script and instinctively touched Chris Evans’ body. The creators decided to keep this scene in order to show how attractive the new super hero was.
9. Saving Private Ryan, 1998
In Steven Spielberg’s drama, there is an episode where Tom Hanks’ character, Captain Miller and Private Ryan (portrayed by Matt Damon) share some memories about home. So, Damon made up the story of his character himself. His monologue about his brothers and his youth was so moving that it was really hard to believe that this scene wasn’t part of the original script.
10. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 2017
The viewers didn’t really like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but there was one scene that moved everyone. In the scene, Luke Skywalker tells his sister, Leia, “No one’s ever really gone,” and kisses her on the forehead. This moving kiss was Mark Hammil’s idea. The director loved this idea so much that he decided to keep it in the film. This episode has even more depth because of the fact that Carry Fisher, who played Leia, died a year before the film was released. So, in a way, we saw an episode of 2 characters saying goodbye to each other.
11. American Hustle, 2013
In American Hustle, there is a very emotional scene where Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the wife of the main character, is arguing with his lover portrayed by Amy Adams. At a certain point, the argument is so heated that Lawrence just kisses Adams aggressively and laughs. Later, actress Amy Adams said that this scene was not on the script in the first place. She just made it up and the director supported her.
12. Iron Man, 2008
One of the most famous phrases, “I am Iron Man” was a good improvisation by Robert Downey Jr. This accidental phrase changed the course of the whole Marvel universe and gave birth to a whole series of Iron Man films.
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming, 2017
“It’s not a hug, I’m just grabbing the door for you,” is the phrase from the funny scene where Tony Stark “reaches” for Peter Parker. This was an improv between the 2 actors, Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr. And Holland was actually the initiator, he just wanted to hug his partner during one of the takes but Downey reacted so fast that the creators decided to keep the scene.