While a good actor knows how to read a script, a great actor has the ability to bring a piece of himself to the role that goes beyond what’s on the page. Through their mannerisms, dialects, and speech patterns, a great actor can truly transform into the role they are portraying. Part of this is the ability to stay in character when something unexpected happens on set. In this way a great actor can take an accidental moment and transform it into a wonderful addition to the story.
In many cases some of what the audience will eventually see on screen was never present in the script at all. Actors who have the ability to improvise on set can create dialogue and other non vocal interactions with other characters from thin air, creating an unscripted moment that in some cases can feel far more genuine than anything that was written ahead of time.
This improvisation is often the basis for moments that take the viewer by surprise in a way that leaves a lasting impression. In fact, some of the most memorable and quotable lines in movies were never written on the page. Here are 15 of the most iconic unscripted movie moments.
15 Good Will Hunting: The Fart Joke
14 Dumb and Dumber: The Annoying Sound
13 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Viggo Mortensen Breaks Two Toes
12 The Godfather: “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”
11 Full Metal Jacket: Boot Camp
10 Being John Malkovich: “Hey, Malkovich! Think fast!”
Spike Jonze received an academy award nomination for his film Being John Malkovich, a surreal comedy in which a puppeteer discovers the ability to enter the head of the actor John Malkovich, who plays himself in the film. This scene involved extras who were supposed to drive by Malkovich as he walked down the side of the highway. However, in the DVD commentary, Jonze revealed that some of his extras had snuck beer onto the set during the long shooting day. One of the extras had a little too much to drink and couldn’t resist playing a prank on the famous actor. As he drove by in the car he took an empty beer can and pelted it at the actor, shouting “Hey, Malkovich! Think fast!” Ironically the director liked the moment and the genuine pain on Malkovich’s face so much that he kept it in the film. Instead of getting fired, the rebellious extra received a pay raise.
9 Zoolander: “But why male models?”
8 Silence of the Lambs: The Hiss
7 Midnight Cowboy: “I’m walkin’ here!”
6 Raiders of the Lost Ark: Gun vs Sword
5 The Shining: “Here’s Johnny!”
4 The Empire Strikes Back: “I know.”
3 Taxi Driver: “You talkin’ to me?”
2 Jaws: A Bigger Boat
1 Django Unchained: Leo Breaks a Glass
For many people this scene alone is living proof that Leonardo DiCaprio was far overdue for an Academy Award before his win for The Revenant in 2016. DiCaprio’s character John Candy, a racist plantation owner known for his sadistic treatment of his slaves, delivers a long monologue to his party guests about his white supremacist ideology. Suddenly, Candy slams his down on the table emphatically, accidentally hitting a glass on the way down. The glass shattered, and DiCaprio badly cut his hand. Despite the steady flow of blood coming from his hand, DiCaprio finishes the scene, even smearing his blood on the face of a genuinely horrified Kerry Washington in a disgusting display of ownership over his slave. DiCaprio received a standing ovation on set for finishing the scene despite his injured hand, but most audiences assumed the blood was just a prop. While the scene is brilliant even without knowledge of this accidental moment, it adds another dimension to the scene that makes DiCaprio’s performance all the more awe-inspiring.
Sources: imdb.com; screenrant.com
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