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20 Iconic Movie Lines That Weren’t In The Script

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At times screenwriters take months, or even years torturing over the perfect line. A number of times, actors just make them up on the spot.
The most iconic lines are usually the product of the actor’s creative side and ad-libbing.

If you want to know which of your favorite actors are splendid improvisers, we’he got you covered: we’he created a list of 20 iconic lines that are so good that you won’t believe they weren’t scripted. Well, read on but bear in mind: Spoilers ahead.

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20. The Godfather

The Godfather gave us a number of reasons to be a memorable movie, from authentic plots, great performances, and impeccable lines. Such example is when family capo Peter Clemenza (Richard Castellano) orders Rocco Lampone (Tom Rosqui) to hit Paulie Gatto (John Martino) since Gatto betrayed Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Richard Castellano’s original line was simply “leave the gun.” But Castellano decided to add a little fun and added on “take the cannoli.”

“Take the cannoli,” became one of the most popular lines from the film. Unfortunately, there was no space for Castellano to create more memorable lines, as he and director Francis Ford Coppola had some disagreements that are unknown to this day.

19. RoboCop

You are probably familiar with Kurtwood Smith’s role od Red, Eric Forman’s father in ‘That’s 70s Show.’ But did you know that he responsible for creating one of the most memorable movie scenes in the 80s? Smith did an amazing job as Clarence Boddicker, the main villain in ‘RoboCop’. He made character scarier than he already was. In RoboCop, Smith takes a beating by RoboCop before he is taken into police custody. As he approaches a desk, he spits blood on the paperwork laying in front of him. He then shouts, ” Give me my f***in’ phone call!” The whole set stood still.

Although this scene was improvised by Smith, he did discuss it with director Paul Verhoeven earlier who supported him. So, real spitting and demanding his phone call was all written by Smith. It was so sudden and unexpected that it shocked the entire crew and the rest of the actors.

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18. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade

Harrison Ford brought so much to his role. His great understanding of the character is what made Indiana Jones so popular as a character. But one more actor brought so much to this franchise that we just can’t imagine ‘Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade’ without. That actor is Sean Connery. Connery tossed out an ad-lib that is one of the best improvisations ever. When Indiana Jones asks, ‘How did you know she’s a Nazi?’ Connery simply adds, “She talks in her sleep.”

This line was up on the spot. As soon as he said it, filming stopped because everyone burst out laughing. Everybody just fell on the floor and director, Steven, said ”Well, that’s in,” and the line stayed in the film.

17. Casablanca

Casablanca is one of the most popular movies ever. Although black and white movie creation may not be your cup of tea, you should think about watching this once-in-a-lifetime love story. Even if you never actually watched it, you have probably heard the line “Here’s looking at you kid.” That line wasn’t even scripted and it’s all about one of the most popular table games.

Humphrey Bogart’s infamous talent helped Casablanca win an Academy Award for Best Picture. It also helped to create one of the most memorable movie lines ever. According to some, Bogart used this line in between takes with Ingrid, while he was teaching her poker. He simply decided on the spot to bring in into the film.

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16. Ghost

Whoopi Goldberg is a splendid actress and superb comedian. She showed that combo in this movie. She had a fantastic time with this film and its script, as she created one of the best non-scripted lines. Sam (Patrick Swayze) approaches Oda Mae Brown, a psychic (Whoopi Goldberg) to reach out to his wife Molly (Demi Moore) to warn her that his murderer is coming to get her. In impressive comic style, Whoopi says, “Molly, you in trouble, girl.”

Goldberg’s entire performance was amazing. For the role of Oda Mae Brown, Whoopi Goldberg won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

15. Jaws

‘Jaws’ was one of the biggest summer blockbusters in movie history. Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, and Roy Scheider had impressive roles in this 70s movie hit. Thanks to this movie we still have goosebumps when we are about to enter the unknown, or known, waters. The movie’s plot is rather basic – the town beach is being terrorized by the shark and the local crew decides to put a stop on it. They abroad Orca, a shark-hunting boat, when Chief Martin Brody realizes that he’s throwing chum into the mouth of the great white shark. At that moment he delivers a rather simple line: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

This non-scripted line perfectly captured the sense of the hair-raising moment. Even the people who never saw ‘Jaws’ are familiar with this line. This memorable line is kind of an on-set inside joke about a too-small boat the production team was using. ‘Jaws’ influenced the future of the film overall, and this line has been listed as 35th on the American Film Institute’s list of best movie quotes.

14. The Usual Suspect

Could you imagine this list without crazy twists from this movie? Neither could we. ‘The Usual Suspects’ is one of those movies that set standards for future creations. Every single moment of the movie is memorable while one line is just brilliant. One of the most epochal scenes is of a police station line-up. During this scene, the actors were given the freedom to do whatever they want in order to create some exciting moments. So, simply said, one of the actors cut the cheese (he farted), so none of the actors could keep a straight face.

During this lineup, they had only one scripted line: “Give me the keys, you f*cking c*cksucker!” Each person had to say it so the witness could point out the suspect. Fred Fenster (Benicio Del Toro) purposefully misquote lines and the improved line by the cop (played by Chris McQuarrie): “In English please?” made this scene absolutely authentic. Bryan Singer, the director, picked this version for the final cut.

13. Taxi Driver

“You talkin’ to me?” Yes, we are talking to you about one of the most famous movie lines ever. Robert De Niro is famous for its real-role preparation. He spent weeks driving a taxi in New York in order to prepare for the role as much as possible. De Niro is also known for his work with expert Scorcese who is known for supporting his actors in their improvisations. Script for ‘Taxi Driver’ simply said that Roberts characters “speaks to himself in the mirror,” and De Niro just took it from there.

“You talkin’ to me?” memorable monologue came organically, without any directive. The monologue was so good that it went straight to the final cut. This line is named number eight on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of 100 favorite movie quotes of all time.

12. Tootsie

‘Tootsie’ is one of the sweetest American movies ever. It’s an interesting plot and amazing actors made this movie popular in a short period of time.
Although, Bill Murray wasn’t the lead actor he managed to shine spontaneously. Murray plays Dustin Hoffman’s roommate and makes his life much more interesting and challenging. Murray specially shinned at the party scene, where he had a long and completely unwritten monologue. No one knew what he would say, but regardless he nailed it big time. However, he had full support from director Sydney Pollack.

Murray was instructed to sit at the table and make it like he is talking all night, and that is exactly what he did. He created one of the movie’s funniest moments. In addition, the film made $172 million at the box office.

11. The Devil Wears Prada

Being at the top of a fashion magazine is not an easy task, and always brilliant Meryl Streep showed us that in ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’ As Miranda Priestly, Streep put on one of the most sensational performances. Furthermore, she nailed the delivery of one specific line, “Everybody wants to be us.” However, this perfect line was not in the script.

Being amazing as she is, Meryl showed in one sentence how completely oblivious, pretentious and self-involved her character really is. This attitude stands opposite of Andrea or Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a young and naive college student who grows up professionally under Priestly’s patronage. Andrea is repelled when her boss says that Andrea reminds her of herself.

10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

In the second ‘Harry Potter’ film, Harry has an opportunity to joins Ron Weasley’s family house, for dinner. He sits down and starts talking with Ron’s father who is rather fascinated with the charming world of muggles. Arthur says, “Now Harry, you must know all about muggle. Tell me — what exactly is the function of a rubber duck?”

This simple line very soon become one of the most memorable moments in Harry Potter history. The best part about it is that it wasn’t even planned. Mark Williams (Arthur) changed the line with every take, and that scene was filmed 13 to 14 times. Rubber duck made the final cut. Bloody brilliant.

9. The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

Vigo Mortensen was not a huge start before he entered the fascinating world of Tolkien’s ‘Lord Of The Rings’. But, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s novels to the big screen, sky-rocked his career. And Vigo did his best to justify Jackson’s trust. Therefore, no wonder that he had periodically ad-lib or two. In ‘Lord of the Rings: Two Towers,’ the scene where Aragorn screams in agony was realistic for a painful reason.

Aragorn believes that the two hobbits, Merry and Pippin, are dead, and he kicks a helmet out of grievance and yells strongly. Director, Peter Jackson, wanted a perfect shot and he asked Vigo to kick the helmet straight in the direction of the camera. On the fifth take, Vigo kicked the helmet toward the camera, dropped to his knees and screamed. Jackson was ecstatic with the outcome, but Mortensen actually broke two of his toes and his scream was a real scream of agony.

8. A Few Good Man

‘A Few Good Man’ is an award-winning movie with mega-stars like Jack Nicholson, Demi Moor, and Tom Cruise. The movie talks about military justice, the nature of true humanity and honor. This movie is known for letting Nicholson improvise. That freedom lead to one of the strongest lines ever – “You can’t handle the truth!”

As the plot unfolds and the case heats up the controversial truth begins to surface. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) becomes enraged as he contradicts his own previous statements. That moment leads to Nicholson’s ad-lib of “You can’t handle the truth” that basically sums up perfectly the whole movie.

7. The Empire Strikes Back

Only true Star Wars fans know that this franchise goes back to 1980s, to the set of its original trilogy. ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ is generally considered the best film in the franchise. It is also one of the most infamous improvisations of all time. There is a passionate kiss between Han Solo and Princess Leia, just before Darth Vader splits them up. Carrie looks at Ford and says, “I love you.” And Ford replies, “I know.”

Instead of saying “I love you too,” Ford decided to go for his version. He said that saying ‘I love you too,’ would be inadequate for Han Solo character, so he said “I know” instead.

6. Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is absolutely filled with one-liners and timeless quotes. But a special diamond is 100% Hank’s improvisation. The ultimate quote was line said by Forrest Gump “My name’s Forrest Gump, but people call me Forrest Gump.” What a perfect way for Hanks to show the world how well he understood his character.

Hanks felt that this kind of line will add to Gump’s personality and sincere heart. And he was right! Director, Robert Zemeckis loved this simple, but yet powerful line and kept it in the final cut. Hanks took an Oscar for the Best Actor home.

5. Good Will Hunting

How outstanding Robin Williams was in his roles. He brought to life one of the most fantastic characters ever. Also, he was brilliant for his ability to ad-lib some of the most legend moments in film history. One of his most famous ad-libbed lines is in Good Will Hunting, where he played a psychiatrist, Sean Maguire. He delivered a memorable line in the movies final scene.

In the final scene, Robin responds to the last line of a letter where Will (Matt Damon) writes, “I gotta see about a girl.” In his vicious way, he ad-libbed, “Son of a bitch. He stole my line.” The final scene had a different line each time, but this was the version that made the final cut.

4. Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Every hero needs a person that can get him in trouble super fast, and Indiana Jones is no exception. His always-let’s-find-trouble-person is authentic Marion Ravenwood who always seems to drag Indiana Jones into various situations, that can lead to a number of improvised scenes. During ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Jones is chasing after Marion when he stumbles upon a sword-wielding man in black. According to the script, Ford was supposed to have a long and exhausting fight with the swordsman. But on the day of shooting Ford was exhausted and sick, and he asked for a shorter solution. So they went for a simple murder with a single bullet.

This scene is so great that’s hard to believe that it wasn’t in the script even. Spielberg once said, “You can only write so much on paper,” and “Once Harrison became Indiana Jones he brought a lot of humor, a lot of irony.” Ford is responsible as well for the line “it’s not the years, sweetheart, it’s the mileage.”

3. Pretty Woman

No matter how successful she gets and how many different characters portrayers she will always be known as the girl who turned ‘Pretty Woman’ to a real love story. Roberts plays a prostitute, Vivian Ward, who by accident meets Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) who transforms her life upside down. She went a long way from a next-corner girl to a high-class companion. And she completely nailed that role. At one point in her vivid transformation, Edward shows her with a necklace. When she reached for it, he snaps the box, startling Vivian Ward. This practical joke was unplanned, and Julia was indeed startled.

Julia Roberts and Richard Gere made this transformation to a classy girl authentic, charming and dynamic. Pairing them up is one of the best strategical moves ever regarding the ‘Pretty Woman.’ Furthermore, this is still one of everyone’s top favorite movies.

2. The Shinning

When you think about Jack Nicholson you probably think about ‘Shinning,’ and vice versa. These two just go together. Did you manage at least once to watch ‘Shinning’ without goosebumps or a chill in your back? Just think of that iconic scene with Nicholson’s crazy eyes and deadly weapon. One of the most memorable movie moments is “Here’s Johnny” scene. Nicholson destroyed nearly 60 doors trying to get the scene right.

“Here’s Johnny” line was entirely made up by Nicholson and he took it from The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. Surprisingly, the line almost didn’t make it through the cutting room. Luckily for us, it did. This ab-libbed line is so famous that you can find it on the list of AFI’s Top 100 Movie Quotes.

1. The Dark Knight

To love a superhero is easy, every actor can do it. But, when your character is a supervillain and people love it, you know that your performance is spectacular. Heath Ledger reached that level with his portrayal of Joker. No one can disagree that Heath gave the performance of a lifetime in Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight.’ However, Heath is on this list for what he did, and not for what he said.

In this memorable scene, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) has arrested The Joker. Everyone is excited. There is even a Mayor who came to gloat in front of this dark mastermind. He also came to personally deliver the news about Gordon’s promotion to Commissioner. Everyone starts clapping, congratulating the new Commissioner. One sound breaks the clapping harmony. Joker claps in a serious, slow and even a morbid way. As the applause dies down slowly, only Heath remains to clap spooky and you realize that it was self-willed action, that wasn’t listed in the script.

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