This article was originally published on Mako
Some of the most memorable and quotable scenes from movies almost never were. Even when writers have dedicated countless hours of their lives to the creation of a script, sometimes the real movie magic happens once everyone's on set. An actor may forget their line and improvise on the spot, or a sudden wave of inspiration may strike the director. It may not lead to anything, but once in a while it creates a scene that goes down as 'iconic.' Here are a few of our favorite ad-libs from movies throughout the years.
Jaws' Most Iconic Line
'Jaws' was released in the summer of 1975 and is widely considered to be the first blockbuster movie due to the film's success. It had a small budget which limited the size of props used on set, including the support boats. It became a running joke between the cast and crew members to say "You're gonna need a bigger boat" whenever anything didn't go according to the producers' original plans.
Roy Schneider, who played Chief Brody, tried to slip the line into the script throughout filming, and the scene where he first sees the size of the shark is the one that made the final cut.
The Godfather Cannoli Line
After Paulie the driver sold him out, The Godfather is almost killed in an attempted hit. The Don's lieutenant Peter is then charged with the task of taking Paulie out, and on the way to the hit, he and Rocco stop for cannoli. When the deed is done and the two go to leave Peter tells Rocco to "leave the gun, take the cannoli." This line was not in the original script but ad-libbed by actor Paul Castellano.
As dark as the scene leading up to this line is, we can't say we disagree with his logic. After all, what's the point in wasting a perfectly good cannoli?
Bill Murray With Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day
Every day is the same in the life of Phil Connors in this 1993 romantic comedy. Each morning Phil, played by Bill Murray, runs into an overzealous acquaintance from high school that he'd prefer to avoid, and each time he needs an excuse to get away. After acting out the scene a few times, Murray improvised one take and continued to embrace actor Stephen Tobolowsky in a hug lasting much longer than normal.
He ad-libbed the line "I have missed you so much. I don't know where you're headed but can you call in sick?" Ned responds looking frightened and tries to get away as quickly as possible.
The Princess Bride's Miracle Max
Billy Crystal's cameo as Miracle Max is one of The Princess Bride's most notable scenes. The director encouraged Crystal to ad-lib during the scene where his character tries to bring Westley back to life. The result was some incredibly quotable one-liners, including “True love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT. Mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. When the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomatoes ripe... it’s so perky.”
Crystal even speaks a bit of Yiddish, which can be heard as he mutters to himself while his wife Valerie chases him around the room, yelling at him about Prince Humperdinck.
Leo DiCaprio in Django Unchained
While this scene in Django Unchained was itself was in the original script, Leo DiCaprio's injured hand was not. In a fit of rage, his character Calvin Candie slams his hand on the table and gets cut by a piece of glass. Most actors probably would have stopped acting at this point; the others in the scene appear to almost break character, but they follow DiCaprio's lead and carry on with the scene.
His hand becomes covered in blood, which adds a dark gruesomeness to an already difficult-to-watch part of the movie. We have to commend Leo's acting chops, though we hope his hand was okay.
Willy Wonka's Grand Entrance
In the 1971 movie adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder (as Willy Wonka) was supposed to walk toward the gate to greet his guests. He limps as he walks, using a cane, and at one point stops and appears to fall forward. Everyone waits with bated breath as he rolls into a somersault and jumps up as if to say, "ta-da!" The roll was not in the original script.
Wilder had the idea to add depth to his character by making it known from the get-go that while he's there to entertain, no one can ever know if Wonka was lying or telling the truth.
The Wax Scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Most of the lines in the scene where Steve Carrell's character gets his chest waxed in The 40-Year-Old Virgin were not in the original script. Carrell insisted that he be waxed for real rather than have the scene done with computer-generated images, and the result was about 3 minutes of very colorful language peppered with a loud exclamation of Kelly Clarkson's name. We have to applaud his commitment to authenticity.
It's rumored that the actress who played the wax technician didn't know what she was doing and lied in order to be cast in the movie, which probably made the experience even more painful for Carrell.
Dumb and Dumber's Most Annoying Sound in the World
Lloyd and Harry pick up a hitman on the side of the road and drive him to Davenport in their Mutt Cutts van, annoying him with their hilarious banter along the way. Even Carrey seems to crack himself up as he asks the man if he wants to hear "the most annoying sound in the world," and proceeds to scream in his ear. The line was improvised by Carrey and not in the original script.
Supposedly, as much as 15% of the 1994 comedy was improvised. It must have been hard not to laugh at times like this - actor Mike Starr seems to struggle to continue as Carrey makes his sound.
"Here's Johnny" From The Shining
In this scene, Jack Nicholson who plays Jack Torrance chases his terrified wife through the ski resort where their family has been staying during its off-season. As he closes in on her, Jack breaks a hole in the door with an ax, sticks his face through it, and yells "Here's Johnny!" as a reference to Johnny Carson. The improvised line is so unexpected, it makes the scene feel even more unsettling.
Rumor has it that Nicholson was given only cheese sandwiches to eat for almost two weeks prior to filming this scene. Supposedly he hates them and the crew thought it would put him in an agitated mood.
The Deli Scene From When Harry Met Sally
In one of the most popular romantic comedies of all time, the typically-reserved character Sally explains to her friend Harry, played by Billy Crystal, that there may be a few secrets he doesn't know about women. She delivers the lesson in the middle of a New York deli, though this wasn't part of the script until actress Meg Ryan suggested it. The director loved the idea and in it went.
The iconic line "I'll have what she's having" after Sally's big spectacle was actually Crystal's idea, and the actress who delivered it was director Rob Reiner's mom in real life.
Sergeant Hartman's Rant in Full Metal Jacket
This 1987 drama about a young marine during the Vietnam war is overall a heavy film, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few moments of comedic relief. During the boot camp scene, actor R. Lee Ermey makes the rounds and screams at all of the new recruits. Many of the lines throughout this nearly 5-minute scene were improvised by Ermey, who actually spent time in the US Marine Corps.
As he screams, he emphasizes that he has no racial bigotry and considers everyone "equally worthless," stopping at one back-talking recruit to whom he says, "You don't scare me, work on it."
Bill Murray's Caddyshack Monologue
In this 1980 comedy about a caddie at an upscale golf and country club, Bill Murray plays a goofy groundskeeper who faces one too many gophers. In one scene, his character imagines he's a professional golfer at The Masters Tournament. He acts as the commentator, telling his own tale about a Cinderella boy with humble beginnings who rose to success to win the tournament, destroying the flower beds in the process.
Bill Murray is known for his improvisational skills as an actor, and scenes like this are the reason why. He ad-libbed the entire monologue in one take after the director encouraged him to make it his own.
The Animal House Cafeteria Scene
In this tale of a rowdy fraternity on the brink of expulsion from the college where they reside, comedian John Belushi adds a lot of humor as one of the fraternity brothers. In the scene during lunch in the cafeteria, he fills his tray to the point of overflow, dropping donuts on the floor and inhaling Jello along the way. Most of this was improvised by Belushi as the scene was filmed.
After fellow students comment on how disgusting they find his eating habits, Belushi sticks a cream puff in his mouth and smashes his cheeks, sending food all over them. This was also not in the original script.
Tom Felton's Jab in The Chamber of Secrets
In this scene in the second film installment of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry and his friend Ron have disguised themselves as friends of Harry's nemesis, Draco Malfoy, to try to get secret information out of him. Harry forgets to remove his glasses, prompting Draco to ask why he's wearing them, to which Harry replies "reading." Tom Felton, who played Draco, was then supposed to continue the scene by addressing another character.
But Felton forgot the line he was supposed to say next, and instead responded with "I didn't know you could read." Everyone else kept character, and it came to be known as one of the film's best lines!
Robert De Niro's Mirror Scene in Taxi Driver
Even those who haven't seen Taxi Driver are likely familiar with Robert De Niro's iconic line. De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a, well, taxi driver and veteran living in New York City following the Vietnam war. In one scene, he stands in front of a mirror and practices intimidating an imaginary adversary. No dialogue was initially written for the scene, and De Niro was encouraged by the director to ad-lib.
After withdrawing his gun and making a few threats, De Niro makes eye contact with himself and asks "You talkin' to me?" It's a simple line, but it sure was memorable.
Goodfellas Club Scene
Ray Liotta plays Henry Hill alongside Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in this 1990 drama. In one scene, they sit with friends in a club where Tommy tells a story that cracks everyone up, and Henry comments that he's funny. Tommy replies in a highly intimidating tone, "What do you mean, I'm funny? Funny how?" The mood becomes serious as everyone fears his reception of the comment will not end well for Henry.
The scene was not in the original script, and only Pesci and Liotta knew it was happening - everyone else's reactions were genuine. Apparently, later the director told Pesci, "Nice, but that was kind of scary." Pesci replied: "Scary how?"
Michael Corleone Says "Hello! "
Danny Aiello delivers a memorable-yet-unscripted line during this scene from the second installment of The Godfather franchise. The Godfather's son Michael seeks revenge for damages done to the Corleone family by rival Frankie Pentangeli. Michael's underlings, including Tony Rosato played by Danny Aiello, find Frankie in a bar and proceed to strangle him. As Tony takes Frankie out, he says "Michael Corleone says "hello!" which was not in the original script.
The line acts as a subtle reminder of just how powerful the Corleone family is and provides a great contrast to the rest of the scene, which is rather gruesome.
The "I Love You" Scene in The Empire Strikes Back
Luke Skywalker is one smooth talker during this scene in the Star Wars Episode V movie 'The Empire Strikes Back.' After the two share a passionate kiss, princess Lea yells that she loves him while the stormtroopers tie him up. Harrison Ford took a risk and went off-script, replying "I know" leading to one of the most emotional goodbyes in cinematic history. Even Chewbacca sounds like he's crying in the background.
Originally, the script had Luke reply to Lea by saying "I love you, too" but Ford ad-libbed "I know" because he thought it better fit the arrogance of his character.
Do the Truffle Shuffle
The director of 'Goonies,' who never say die, supposedly loved working with children because they were much more open to playing and improvising while on set than many adult actors he'd worked with. This included actor Jeff Cohen, who played Chunk. At one point in the film, Chunk was told by another character that he couldn't come inside until he did the "Truffle Shuffle." Cohen then lifted up his shirt and shook his belly.
Thirty years later, director Richard Donner actually expressed remorse about the way this scene played out, saying it was uncomfortable to poke fun at Cohen's weight. Donner bought him a gym membership and he went on to become captain of his school's football team.
Fight Club - "I Want You to Hit Me. "
Brad Pitt didn't expect that Edward Norton would actually hit him in the ear during the filming of the 1999 thriller 'Fight Club,' but there's a reason Pitt is an Oscar-winning actor - he knows how and when to stay in character. Despite having just been punched, he continued the scene, saying "that was perfect." Norton laughed, and then Pitt proceeded to punch him in the stomach. Hopefully, neither actor was seriously hurt.
Norton was originally supposed to punch Pitt in the shoulder - the director instructed him to change at the very last second in order to surprise Pitt. Based on his reaction, it seemed to work!
The Jewelry Box Scene From Pretty Woman
Pretty Woman tells the story of a wealthy man named Edward, played by Richard Gere, who hires a prostitute named Vivian, played by Julia Roberts, to escort him to some social events, and as they get to know each other he starts to fall in love. While preparing to go out one evening, Edward presents Vivian with a Jewelry box containing an expensive necklace. She moves to examine it and is met with a surprise.
Gere had the idea to suddenly snap the box shut, which made Julia burst out laughing. This wasn't in the original script, but her laugh was so genuine that the interaction made the final cut.
Mrs. Doubtfire Saves Face
Robin Williams played Daniel Hillard who played Mrs. Doubtfire in the 1990s comedy of the same name. Portraying the housekeeper required a heavy disguise, and when his mask gets run over by a truck his cover is almost blown. After searching in the fridge for a suitable replacement, he slams his face in a cake and plays it off as a skincare regimen. The heat from the set lights posed a problem, however.
Hot lights caused the icing to melt off his face, and it landed in the tea he'd prepared for the visiting social worker. Like the comedic genius he is, Williams rolled with this and made it part of the scene.
Mia's Fall in the Princess Diaries
In the 2001 rom-com The Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway plays Mia, a high school student who discovers that she's actually a princess. In a scene where she and her friend Lilly, played by Heather Matarazzo are talking while walking on a set of bleachers, Hathaway slipped and ended up falling between the seats. Her fall fit the clumsy character of Mia so well that the producers decided to include it in the final cut.
She laughed and continued on to her next line. Luckily Matarazzo played along, leading to one of the funniest and most memorable scenes in the film. We're just glad she wasn't hurt.
The Dirty Dancing Crawl Scene
This is one of the most memorable scenes in the entire movie, and it wasn't even supposed to be there. Jennifer Grey plays Baby, whose family is vacationing at a resort where Johnny, played by Patrick Swayze, works as a dance instructor. The two become close and eventually fall in love as they rehearse for the resort's big end-of-summer show. Baby's father doesn't approve of the union, which leads to a lot of sneaking around.
In a real-life rehearsal one day, Grey and Swayze were warming up and began crawling around on the floor. The director loved the improvisation so much, he kept it in the final cut of the film.
When Rain Man Farted
After the death of his father, Charlie, played by Tom Cruise, returns home and learns he has an older brother named Raymond, whom he referred to in childhood as 'Rain Man,' played by Dustin Hoffman. In a selfish attempt to manipulate Raymond out of his inheritance, Charlie checks him out of the facility where he lives and takes him on a cross-country road trip. Things don't exactly go according to plan.
Apparently, Hoffman actually farted during a scene that took place in a small phone booth. Tom Cruise rolled with it, and his reaction made the final cut. We just hope it didn't smell too bad.
The Wolf of Wall Street Chest Beat
This dark comedy based on a true story follows the wild and often shocking life of stockbroker Jordan Belfort through a Wall Street Crash as he cheats his way back to the top. Before Belfort's career takes off and his lifestyle earns him the moniker "The Wolf of Wall Street," he had an entry-level job where he met boss Mark Hanna, played by Matthew McConaughey. Mark orders them martinis and shows Jordan the ropes.
Apparently, McConaughey beat his chest with his fist before filming began to help himself relax, and when Leo saw him do it he suggested to the director that they implement the technique into the scene.
Raiders of the Lost Ark Fight Scene
One key scene from the Indiana Jones movie 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' was supposed to last much longer than what made it to the film. After a long chase through the casbah, Indy meets a swordsman, and the two prepare to fight. The full battle would have taken days to film, and Harrison Ford was already sick and exhausted from months of filming in the Tunisian heat. He suggested Indy simply shoot the swordsman instead.
Apparently, the actor who played the swordsman was quite disappointed to learn that the scene would be cut. To make it up to him, Ford doubled the payout from his own pocket.
Quint's Monologue in Jaws
Another ad-libbed scene from 'Jaws' worthy of recognition: While the crew is on the fishing boat, Orca, looking for the shark, shark hunter Quint, played by Robert Shaw, delivers a hauntingly captivating monologue about his encounters with sharks and experiences with death during World War II. He describes the bombing of Hiroshima and how casualties in the water attracted sharks, explaining that the sharks have "lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes."
Prior to filming, Shaw suggested the cast have a drink, but he ended up falling asleep and was unable to do the scene. A new version was rewritten by Shaw himself and was filmed the following day.
The Battle of Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War
This 2018 Marvel blockbuster follows the Avengers as they collect Infinity Stones and save the universe from the evil Thanos. Chris Hemsworth plays Thor, and when he and Captain America, played by Chris Evans, reunite during the battle scene they pause for a moment and remark on each others' appearance. Captain America asks Thor if he's had a new haircut, and Thor responds that he's "noticed you've copied my beard."
Their banter was not part of the original script but was actually the idea of Hemsworth and Evans themselves after discussing what friends who'd been apart for a while would say to each other.
"They Hate This" From Ghostbusters
Bill Murray makes our list again as the king of comedic improvisation. After losing his job as a scientist, Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman joins up with two friends to hunt ghosts in New York City. In one scene, Murray and enters a room and announces his presence to the ghosts by playing the highest notes on a piano he finds. He then says, "They hate this. I like to torture them."
This wasn't in the script but was an ad-lib by Murray. It's a subtle and easily missable line but it adds a layer of humor to the scene that suits his character perfectly.
When Someone Throws an Orange at Rocky
Sylvester Stallone plays Rocky Balboa, a boxer from Philadelphia who is chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight champion after another boxer is injured. Rocky trains hard as he prepares for the fight, including the film's most famous scene when he runs up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum. The film didn't have a very high budget, and so the scenes filmed outside were not part of a closed set.
The people standing on the sidewalk as Rocky runs down a dirty Philadelphia avenue are real pedestrians, including someone who throws an orange at him. Stallone happened to catch it without a fumble.
"Game Over, Man. Game Over. "
'Aliens,' the second film in the Alien series, picks up 57 years after the first film left off. Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, wakes up in a salvage ship and agrees to accompany a group of Colonial Marines as they venture to planet LV-426. There she discovers the same alien species that attacked her ship in the series' first film, and alongside the Maries must prepare for another battle.
Bill Paxton plays one of the Marines and maintains an attitude of toughness until a ship sent to rescue the group crashes. At this point, he exclaims hopelessly, "Game over man, game over!" The line was ad-libbed by Paxton.
When Thor Hangs His Hammer
Chris Hemsworth stars as Thor in the 2013 Marvel movie Thor: The Dark World, and from what we can tell had a lot of fun on set. In one scene, he enters an apartment and hangs his magic hammer Mjolnir on a coat rack, which was not originally in the script for this scene. Hemsworth's own sense of humor led him to hang it as a joke, and the director decided to keep it in the film.
Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios has said that Hemsworth's subtle, funny moments like these in the early Thor films lent inspiration for the series' third installment Thor: Ragnarok.
The Goodbye Scene From Casablanca
The oldest film on our list made in 1942, Casablanca's script was purportedly written in a hurry and wasn't quite finished by the time filming started. Humphrey Bogart starred as Rick, a nightclub owner in Morocco. His old lover Ilsa and her husband Victor come to town, and it's discovered that Victor is in a bit of trouble. Rick agrees to help them escape, and narrowly avoids getting in trouble himself.
The film ends as Rick says to the captain who helped him, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." The line was not only not in the script but was actually added over during post-production.
Cher's Proposition in Clueless
During the debate class scene of this classic 90's rom-com, Cher, the film's protagonist argues in favor of immigration to the United States in her own special way. Cher is a pretty and popular, albeit airheaded teen played by Alicia Silverstone, who during the debate, mispronounced the word "Haitians" as "Hate-ee-ans." The script did not specify that she should pronounce it this way, so whether by accident or on purpose, this was Silverstone's ad-lib.
The flub fit Cher so well that the director insisted the take continue even when fellow cast members moved to correct her. In closing, may we remind you that it does not say R.S.V.P on the Statue of Liberty!?