16 Amazing Movie Moments You Never Knew Were Improvised

Sticking to the script is not easy for many reasons. First of all, the actor wants to take the obvious shortcut. There are so many lines to memorize and making some up is way easier. Secondly, the actor is way more concerned with nailing the emotion of the scene, not the measly lines. And sometimes actors take parts because they like the character and don’t really like the script. They think that their own ideas can improve the production and sometimes they’re right.

This article includes famous and memorable moments when Hollywood legends blew away the preconceived notions. They were in the moment, in the scene, said something they weren’t supposed to, but the director loved it and kept it in the film. What’s amazing is how some of these ad-libs overshadowed the rest of the movie. Some improvs are the high point, and the clearest thing you remember. Without the actors taking risks the finished production might have fallen short. So in a way, this list proves that actors should be encouraged to make mistakes. But they’ve got to be good ones, there’s only so many takes.

Some actors on this list have built their careers around improvisation. They were stand-up comedians before becoming actors and they brought their improv skills with them. Others may surprise you, especially the serious types who seem to play it by the book. We’re not talking about Paul Rudd, or Will Ferrell who ad-lib 80% of the film. We’re talking about brief scenes in major films that were happy accidents. Here’s the legendary improvised movie scenes we’ll never forget.

16 Star Wars: Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back

15 Taxi Driver

14 Good Will Hunting

13 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

12 The Dark Knight

11 Raiders of the Lost Ark

10 The Godfather

9 The Fugitive

8 Pretty Woman

7 Dumb and Dumber

6 Jaws

5 Reservoir Dogs

4 Casablanca

3 Silence of the Lambs

2 The Shining

1 Goodfellas

This improved scene was all Joe Pesci. According to reports, when Pesci was a kid he knew a neighborhood gangster who went off in a similar, irrate tangent. He told director Martin Scorsese about his idea and Marty gave it the okay. All Marty directed Ray Liotta to do was tell Pesci that he was funny. And the rest of the rant was ad-libbed. “Funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you?” The most memorable part of the scene are the looks on the guys in the background who had no idea that the scene even existed. And there was no telling how far Pesci’s wild gangster character was going to take it.



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16 Amazing Movie Moments You Never Knew Were Improvised