A great script with a perfect story, character arc and dialogue can be made into a critically acclaimed movie. If the script is followed of course. But sometimes it’s simply not possible for a director to go along with the screenplay due various reasons like, an actor not feeling well, thunderstorms at the location and some other reasons out of the ordinary. So the film crew, producer, director, actors everyone has to improvise to be on schedule.
There are blockbusters movies, Oscar winning performances by actors and actresses in scenes, which were never scripted. It’s surprising how many scenes were just improvised or weren’t meant to be shot, but have remained in our memories forever. Let’s look at some of those now.
1. Good Will Hunting
We all know Robin Williams was a great actor. One of the reasons for his greatness was thinking of dialogues at the spur of the moment. Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a mathematical genius who is not ready to open up emotionally to his therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). So Sean decides to tell a personal story in order to make him talk.
Sean was supposed to talk about his late wife and how she would turn off the alarm clock in the night, which made him late for work. But Sean goes on to talk totally different from the script; something really very funny about his wife which even makes their dog start barking loudly in the middle of the night. This makes Will laugh heartily.
Damon had no idea about this story from Williams, which caught him off guard and he thought of it as genuinely funny. Some people think that even the cameraman couldn’t control his laugh, as you can see the camera shake a little.
2. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
After this movie’s release Indiana Jones became a household name and has since been used countless number of times in Hollywood movies.
As per the script Dr Jones (Harrison Ford) is trying to find Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) after she is kidnapped. He runs into a bad guy with a sword and there’s a sword fight between Ford and the fighter.
But Ford fell ill with food poisoning and didn’t have the energy to film the entire scene. So after talking with the director, Steven Spielberg, Ford just shoots the guy with his gun. This blended perfectly with his character and the audience remembered it as bringing a gun to a sword fight contradicting the most insane duels ever fought right?
3. Django Unchained
We all know Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the finest actors the world has seen. In the film Django Unchained, Calvin Candie (Leonardo) a slave owner smashes a glass and smears his blood soaked hand on the face of Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who is extremely horrified.
This was not in the script. Leonardo had cut his hand deeply while smashing the glass. Despite blood gushing out of his hand, he improvised and gave a spectacular performance to which he was given a standing ovation by the crew members and his co-stars.
You probably know Jaws as the first summer blockbuster in Hollywood. It was also known for the movie’s never ending budget problems and dubbed as Flaws by the crew before its release.
When Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is shocked that the shark they’re hunting is more massive than he had imagined, he goes to Captain Quint (Robert Shaw) and utters a line which is never in the script. The line is “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” It was a wonderful decision by Spielberg to keep the scene in the movie.
5. Midnight Cowboy
This film won the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 42nd Academy Awards. But not all scenes in this film were scripted.
In New York, the main characters in the film, Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and Enrico Salvatore “Ratso” Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) were walking down a street as per the script, talking about women. The street had been shut down for filming but a taxi driver didn’t see the ‘Closed’ sign and almost hit the two men. Hoffman got angry, hit the hood with his hand and yelled with his cigarette falling to the ground “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!”.
This outburst suited his character as a conman in the film and director John Schlesinger thought it was so original that he kept this shot in the film. Now you’ll know where it originated from.
6. Thor: The Dark World
This is the sequel to Thor also stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor. During filming, Chris walked into the apartment and hung his hammer on the coat hook. Marvel characters have not always had the best one word punchlines. So director Alan Taylor thought this gave Thor’s personality a softer touch and a humorous feel without dialogue. It went well with the audience too. The film grossed over 600 million worldwide.
7. Being John Malkovich
During the shoot, John is walking the sidewalk on a busy road. A car passes by and the driver throws a can at him. The can hits John and he cries in pain while the man yells “Hey Malkovich! Think Fast!”.
Nothing in this scene was ever scripted. Turns out, the man was an extra and badly drunk. The scene was kept in the film and the crew member was given a raise.