It might be surprising to hear that some of the most iconic lines from movies weren’t originally a part of the script.
A screenwriter could spend months, even years, developing a story. However, if the director allows an actor to ad-lib, he or she has the power to create completely new lines right on the spot.
Creative ad-libbing takes some serious skills and not any actor can pull it off.
If you are curious to find out which of your favorite movie stars are impressive improvisers, look no further. In this article, you will discover the top 25 Unscripted Movie Moments that Made the Cut!
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This is Spinal Tap
Improvising is quite difficult and doesn’t always work. However, the spoof rockumentary This is Spinal Tap showed that it was possible to create a movie almost completely from ad-libbing.
The film stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner. These actors were all given credit for the movie’s screenplay since they improvised most of the script.
I Don’t Care!
The 1993 crime-thriller The Fugitive stars Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sela Ward.
The story revolves around a wrongfully accused man, Richard Kimble, trying to find his wife’s true murder.
One of the most telling scenes was made even more memorable by Tommy Lee Jones forgetting his lines. Instead of saying, “That isn’t my problem,” he blurts out, “I don’t care!”
Son of a B*tch, He Stole My Line!
The late Robin Williams was considered to be a comedic genius. He poured his soul into every role he played.
It comes as no surprise that one of the most beloved lines in Good Will Hunting was created by him on the whim. Co-star Matt Damon later told Boston Magazine that Williams came up with a different line during each take of the final scene.
However, when he delivered, “Son of a b*itch, he stole my line!” Damon recalls it as an electric moment.
My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump
The 1994 drama-comedy Forrest Gump is considered to be a movie masterpiece. It went on to win six Academy Awards and receive three nominations from the MTV Movie Awards.
Director Robert Zemeckis admits that a few of the most iconic lines were a product of Hanks’ ad-libbing. One of the favorites is, of course, “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”
Gimmie a Break!
You might be surprised to hear that famous actress Drew Barrymore began her acting career at just 11 months old.
So, by the time she joined the cast of E.T. The Extraterrestrial, she had six years of acting under her belt.
A few of her ad-libbed lines even made it into the movie. A few of them were in the unforgettably adorable, “Gimmie a break!” scene.
Flirty Airplane Scene - Bridesmaids
You may have known Melissa McCarthy for her role in the American comedy-drama series Gilmore Girls. However, she has gone on to star in many movies since.
One of her most iconic scenes to date is her hilarious improvised airplane flirting in the movie Bridesmaids.
The scene is filled with her vulgar admission to seducing a man who just came out of the bathroom.
You Know How I Know You are Gay
The cast of The 40-Year-Old Virgin is packed with talented comedians like Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Catherine Keener.
So, it comes to no surprise that the, “You know how I know you’re gay,” dialogue was thirty seconds of complete comedic improvising.
The scene was originally supposed to end quickly after, but the two actors kept on rolling with hilarious punchlines. It was also the longest improv scene that made it in the final cut.
Why Male Models?
Some of the best scenes in movies simply come from an actor forgetting their lines. For one hilarious dialogue in the 2001 comedy Zoolander, this was exactly the case.
Derek Zoolander (played by Ben Stiller) forgot his line after the former male model, J.P. Prewitt (played by David Duchovny), answers Zoolander’s question, “Why male models?” Instead of breaking character, he simply asks the same question again.
Luckily, Prewitt goes with the improvisation and simply answers, “Are you kidding? I just told you like a minute ago.”
There are few sounds that have the power to send tingles down your spine and make your skin crawl.
Welsh actor, director, and producer Anthony Hopkins was praised for his role in the 1991 horror film Silence of the Lambs.
The eerie “Hsss” sound Hopkins made right after delivering the spooky line, “I ate liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti,” was totally unexpected and unscripted.
You Can’t Handle the Truth!
The 1992 drama A Few Good Men revolves around a military lawyer’s attempt to defend Marines accused of murder.
It stars Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore. The movie’s script was praised for its depth and continuity; however, Nicholson’s altered line, “You can’t handle the truth!” goes down in movie history.
The original line was supposed to be, “You already have the truth,” but that doesn’t seem to pack as much of a punch as the improvised line does.
The Cocaine Sneeze Scene, Annie Hall
The 1977 romantic comedy Annie Hall won two Oscars, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, partly for its unique, untraditional approach.
One of the funniest scenes in the movie was caused by a real-life sneeze. When Alvy’s enormous unexpected sneeze blew cocaine around the living room, fellow actors couldn’t help but laugh.
To the delight of fans who have enjoyed the film for the past 30+ years, the cocaine sneeze scene made it into the final cut.
The Jewelry Box Close, Pretty Women
There aren’t many movies in history that are still adored 30 years after they were released. Pretty Woman is one of those movies.
The modern update on a Cinderella story follows the romance between an escort and a wealthy businessman.
Many fans may be surprised to hear that one of the most beloved scenes in the movie was spontaneous.
The moment when Richard Gere playfully snaps a jewelry box on Julia Roberts’ fingers is so charming because Roberts’ endearing laugh was completely genuine.
The Chest-Waxing Scene, The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The chest-waxing scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin wasn’t originally part of the screenplay. However, it was quickly added after Steve Carell suggested it.
They knew they wanted to get Carell’s real-life reactions, so they shot this particular scene like they would a documentary.
Each line Carell screamed after getting waxed was completely improvised.
Willy Wonka's Entrance
Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory follows a boy’s fascinating journey through the world’s greatest chocolate factory after winning a golden ticket.
Gene Wilder, an American actor, accepted the role of Willy Wonka under one condition. Wilder wanted his character to be completely unpredictable.
In order to set that tone, he thought Willy Wonka’s grand entrance should begin with a crippled walk and end with a somersault forward.
I’m Walking Here!
Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 drama-comedy starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight.
The movie went on to win an Academy Award but it started off as an extremely disliked, low-budget film. Since there wasn’t a budget for movie extras, a lot of the filming was done on the streets of New York City.
The famous line, “I’m walking here!” delivered by Hoffman was actually him yelling at a cab for jumping the light.
I’m Hearing This, and I Want to Hear This
Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep’s performances in The Devil Wears Prada were simply iconic. The movie was produced in 2006 and has gone on to become a cult classic.
One of the most memorable parts of the movie is when Streep tells Hathaway “I’m hearing this, and I want to hear this.”
Streep later admits that her infamous line was actually improvised after she heard a mother say the same thing to her child.
And He Invented the Mobile Disco
The 2004 horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead quickly became a blockbuster hit for its hilarious scenes.
The dynamic chemistry between actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost can’t go unnoticed. That is one of the reasons why the movie was so successful.
The pub scene where they are describing people in the bar was all improvised. Pegg’s hilarious reaction after Frost says, “And he invented the mobile disco” was a genuine reaction because Frost was making it up as he went.
Molly, You in Danger Girl
The beloved American actress, Whoopi Goldberg, earned an Academy Award for her performance in the 1990 movie Ghost.
She portrayed a psychic who helped a recently deceased man make contact with his partner.
Goldberg is known to add her spin to the scripted lines. However, “Molly, you in danger, girl!” was completely improvised.
Well, I Must Say I’d Hoped for Better
The Harry Potter movie franchise is beloved for its characters, storyline, action, and adventure.
Ralph Fiennes, an English actor, plays the evil Lord Voldemort. While rehearsing for his big speech in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Fiennes kept his fellow actors on their toes by never delivering his lines the same way twice.
“Well, I must say I’d hoped for better,” began as an improvised portion of his monologue that made the final cut.
You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
Director Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster hit Jaws helped pave way for future action drama movies.
The film isn’t just one of the most influential movies from its time. It also provided some of the most quotable lines in movie history.
Roy Scheider, an American actor, uttered his ad-libbed line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” after he saw the dreadful shark for the first time. Spielberg knew right away it had to be part of the final production.
I’m the King of the World!
There are many memorial moments from director James Cameron’s 1997 movie, Titanic.
One of the most iconic lines from the movie came from twenty-year-old Leonardo Dicaprio. When Dicaprio first got to the end of the ship, he shouted out, “I’m the king of the world!”
Cameron supposedly liked it so much that he decided to keep it in the movie.
The Dinner Scene - American Beauty
The 1999 drama-comedy, American Beauty, revolves around a traditional family man’s disillusion with his life and his new hunger for excitement.
It stars Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, and Wes Bentley.
The iconic dinner scene where a plate goes flying was totally unscripted. The actors were given an outline of points to hit, but the rest was improvised.
The psychological horror film, The Shining, follows a writer and his family who are plagued by psychic premonitions.
It was originally released in 1980 and is considered one of the most frightening movies ever made.
In fact, the “Here’s Johnny!” scene, which was completely improvised, is considered to be the scariest movie moment of all time, according to a new study.
Hey, You Wanna Hear the Most Annoying Sound in the World?
Dumb and Dumber is a comedy movie about two friends who set out on a cross-country road trip to return a briefcase to its owner.
It stars stand-up comedians and actors Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.
The scene that contains the famous line, “Hey, you wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?” was completely unscripted.
In fact, every actor’s reaction from the intolerably loud noise was totally genuine!
You Talkin’ to Me?
Robert De Niro, an American actor, was 33 years old when he was cast in the hit movie Taxi Driver in 1976.
The movie revolves around a New York City taxi driver who has insomnia and is growing more and more detached from reality.
While filming the mirror scene in the movie, De Niro had to improvise talking to himself.
“You talkin’ to me?” has become one of the most beloved lines of all time and it was created from ad-libbing.