Actors who ad-lib are mostly edited out, but there are other times when they are kept in the final cut. In fact, many of these made-up lines that were not in the script can become some of the most iconic movie lines in history…
The Devil Wears Prada
Miranda Priestly’s (Meryl Streep) perfectly sour and powerful character has given us some of the most memorable facial expressions and phrases, including the incredible, ‘everybody wants to be us’ – which was not in the script of The Devil Wears Prada.
Whoopi Goldberg is one of the most versatile actors in the business. She can sing, she can dance, and she is one heck of an actor. Her finest moment came in 1990 when she appeared alongside Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in Ghost. Although Ghost has made us bawl like a baby in the past, there’s no denying Whoopi’s comedic effect on the sad storyline – most of which was made up on the spot, including the iconic, ‘Molly, you in trouble, girl.’
A Few Good Men
Over the course of history, there have been some movies that have been able to persuade some of the biggest names in Hollywood to join their cast, and A Few Good Men was one of those. With an all-star cast that included the likes of Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon and Tom Cruise, this movie also brought us the hugely quotable line, ‘you can’t handle the truth!’ which Nicholson made up on the spot. A true work of genius.
Many of the actors on this list decided to add a new line into the mix because they felt it would add a little somethin-somethin to the scene – but there are some actors who simply forget their line, and made it up as they went along to cover their tracks. That’s exactly what Tommy Lee Jones did in The Fugitive. Jones was supposed to say ‘that isn’t my problem.’ However, he forgot his line, so made up the iconic ‘I don’t care!’ instead.
When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is arguably one of the best rom-coms in existence (you know it’s true) and is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, and feel all kinds of emotions you may not even have realized you had. Of course, Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal totally made this movie the blockbuster that it was, and has brought us adorably quotable lines ever since its release – including the iconic, ‘I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie’ which was improvised.
However, it’s not just improvisation or mistakes that cause some of the most iconic movie lines in history. Sometimes, it’s the work of others and the quick-thinking of actors that forces them to stray from the script. In Midnight Cowboy, Dustin Hoffman’s ‘I’m walking here!’ has gone down in history. During filming, a taxi driver accidentally missed the filming signs and drove his way onto the set, almost running Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight over in the process, causing the outrage.
If we ask you whether you’ve watched The Godfather, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t come back with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, but rather, an iconic line from the movie – because there are so many! One of the most famous lines is ‘take the cannoli.’ This line was written in the script as ‘leave the gun’ but Richard Castellano decided to take matters into his own hands and mix things up a little bit. Well, it’s fair to say it worked.
It’s no secret that Humphrey Bogart was one of the most talented actors in the business, and took the ‘40s film noir scene by the cajones. Nowadays, he is still remembered for his iconic performance in Casablanca, and the ‘Here’s looking at you, kid’ quote.This line was not in the script but was uttered to Ingrid Bergman while they were playing poker in between takes. The producers loved it so much; they asked him to incorporate it into the movie.
The Dark Knight
It was an incredibly sad day when Heath Ledger passed away (we’re still not over it), but at least we still have everlasting memories of him in the form of his movies. The last movie Ledger put his name to was The Dark Knight, where he appeared as the iconic and crazy villain, The Joker. Ledger’s representation is largely considered the best Joker in cinematic history, especially with his improvised confusion when his bomb remote didn’t work for a few clicks. What a legend.
Yep, it’s another Jon Voight movie. Deliverance isn’t the kind of movie you’d want to watch on your own on a Sunday afternoon, but it is well worth a watch. The film follows a group of friends as they fight for survival after getting lost in the woods. However, the group is soon attacked by a gang. In this brutal scene, one of the attackers tells the victims to ‘squeal like a pig,’ and they comply. This was not in the script but made up.
Good Will Hunting
If you’re looking for a classic movie that will uplift your spirits, look no further than Good Will Hunting. This movie classic stars the likes of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and the legend himself, the late Robin Williams. Williams played a largely serious character, but he still made up his own lines. One line came when Williams read a letter which included, ‘I gotta see about a girl.’ Robin then made up the epic response, ‘son of a b**ch. He stole my line.’
Being John Malkovich
Let’s be honest, Being John Malkovich is a pretty weird movie. Sure, it’s amazing, but it is weird. So, it comes as no surprise that there were a few problems, twists and turns when it came to filming. During one scene, a drunk extra made the decision to improvise. Although they were just supposed to act drunk and drive past the actor on the street, they then threw a can at Malkovich and yelled, ‘Hey, Malkovich! Think fast!’
The Usual Suspects
If you’ve seen The Usual Suspects (congrats, you’ve completed life), you’ll know that this movie is one that is full of well-executed twists and turns and perfect timing. However, the line-up scene in The Usual Suspects is a little blip in time, as the actors were given a chance to do whatever the heck they wanted. Yep, nearly all of this scene was completely improvised by the actors, including the iconic comedic line, ‘in English please.’
When it comes to epic movies, Goodfellas is just below The Godfather (because you really can’t beat The Godfather), and the relationship between Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci is one of the main reasons Martin Scorsese’s movie proved so popular. However, it’s fair to say that Joe Pesci knocked the rest of the iconic lines out of the park with the hilarious, ‘Do I amuse you?’ after he was dubbed as the ‘funny guy’ of the group.
The Silence of the Lambs
If you’re willing to get over the fact that Hannibal Lecter is a human cannibal, you’ll absolutely love The Silence of the Lambs. This psychological thriller will get your brain ticking, your blood pumping and your adrenaline flowing, as you watch Hannibal deliver an impressively creepy monologue to Jodie Foster about demolishing human liver with ‘fava beans and a nice Chianti.’ Anthony Hopkins thought he would add a new dimension to this line by hissing at the same time.
Robert De Niro is a national treasure in the world of acting and has delivered some iconic lines over the course of his career (and inspired some epic fancy dress costumes). One of his most famous movies was Taxi Driver, where he looked himself in the mirror and said, ‘You talkin’ to me?’ This line was completely made up on the spot. Although the script read, ‘Bickle speaks to himself in the mirror’ the director had no idea what he would do.
The Warriors is a cult classic that you should all watch at least once in your lifetime. One of the most iconic scenes in the movie involves David Patrick Kelly (Luther) uttering the line, ‘Warriors, come out to play!’ in a creepy yet playful tone while clinking bottles together in his hand. However, it seems David decided to improvise during this scene, as this line was not originally written in the script. Thankfully, the risk paid off, and the directors loved it.
Although Marlon Brando is known as one of the most iconic actors of all time (he’s basically a genius), he is also infamous. Yep, this celeb is known for his difficult ways and his stubborn nature. After Francis Ford Coppola asked him to appear in his new movie, Apocalypse Now, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. During filming, Brando refused to learn his lines and decided to make it up as he went alone – which is what he did!
Although Blade Runner was a cinematic flop when it was first released, it has since become a cult classic, with more and more fans watching it every year. Alongside the epic futuristic storyline, this movie is also known for Harrison Ford – but Harrison was inadvertently overshadowed in one of the last few moments of the movie. Yep, the android was only meant to have a few lines, but the actor decided to add a few more elements to his emotional ‘tears of rain’ monologue.
Okay, there’s no doubt about it. Jaws is an absolute banger. Although the special effects weren’t quite what they are now, the movie still had a profound impact on cinema. This movie has brought us some of the most iconic scenes in film history, including the moment when Chief Martin Brody realizes that he has just fed a shark (oops). John Williams’ terrified face soon gave way to a completely made up line that was not in the script: ‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat.’
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones is the kind of guy we all want to be, and when we watched him take down a sword-wielding assailant in Raider of the Lost Ark, we were pretty darn impressed. However, it seems this moment was supposed to be very different. According to Steven Spielberg’s script, Indy and the assailant were supposed to take part in a long, drawn-out sword and whip fight. Unfortunately, Harrison Ford was ill on the day, so they decided to make it shorter.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Of course, we all know and love Tim Burton’s modern adaptation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but nothing will compare to Gene Wilder and the original movie. Apparently, Wilder only agreed to take the role if he could improvise and add his own lines and action every now and then – including the iconic entrance scene. This entrance was not scripted, nor were many of his lines throughout the movie. He will always be our Willy Wonka.
If you haven’t seen RoboCop yet, you need to get on that ASAP. Trust us. One of the most memorable moments in this movie came in the police station after Clarence Boddicker was bloodied and broken after an epic fight from RoboCop. In an unprecedented move, he then spits blood on the paperwork in front of him and shouts, ‘Give me my f****in phone call!’ This line was not in the script and intended to naturally shock the other actors around him.
A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick was a genius. His films were weird, wacky, and all over the place – yet perfectly formed and perfectly orchestrated. One of his most memorable adaptations was A Clockwork Orange, a strange dystopian thriller that has entertained (and creeped out) viewers for decades. After Alex and his friends break into a house and attack the inhabitants, Kubrick gave Malcolm McDowell free reign to do whatever he wanted. In a stroke of strange genius, he created the iconic Singing in the Rain
Stanley Kubrick gave Malcolm McDowell free reign to do what he wanted in A Clockwork Orange.
Full Metal Jacket
If we ever went into the military, it’s fair to say that we’d never wanted to be taught by the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick’s character was notorious for being strict, harsh, and would release a stream of punishments and insults on a daily basis. However, it seems this character wasn’t in the original script. In fact, Kubrick simply asked R. Lee Ermey to improvise and see what he could do with the storyline. He rocked it.
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is the kind of movie that will make you cry your eyes out (if you’re into that kind of thing) but is also a work of cinematic genius. With the help of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Matt Damon created a masterpiece of war-stricken moments. One of the most memorable scenes in this movie involved Damon and Hanks taking a break to reflect on their home life, where Matt Damon made up the story about the girl back home.
This Is Spinal Tap
If you’ve seen This Is Spinal Tap, you’ll know that this hilarious mockumentary will have you rolling around on the floor laughing for the whole 82 minutes running time. However, it seems the movie could have been a lot longer than 82 minutes, as the main actors rarely stuck to the script. Instead, they ad-libbed a large majority of the movie, so much so that they were actually credited as writers for the final cut of the film.
You might know Dr. Strangelove as it’s (much) longer title, How I Learned To Stop Worrying About The Bomb, Dr. Strangelove. This incredibly odd but genius movie is a satirical piece that follows an imminent threat of nuclear war – in a hilarious way. However, there was no real script for this movie. Instead, the actors simply improvised and ad-libbed most of their way through the movie, and created their own lines and actions, including Dr. Strangelove’s iconic arm movements.
If you’re dreaming of one day becoming a professional model, we’d advise you NOT to watch Zoolander, but if you’re looking for a bit of fun – then this is the movie for you. Zoolander is one of Ben Stiller’s most iconic roles, and he seemed to take to being a dim male model as quickly as a duck takes to water. While he was speaking to J.P Prewitt, Stiller accidentally repeated his hilarious line, ‘Why male models?’ twice, rather than once.
Many of you may not have seen The Shining because it’s a horror movie (and we don’t want to be scarred for life), but this movie is so much more than a horror. Jack Nicholson perfectly brings the main character to life and shows his transition and descent into madness as he spends more and more time in the haunted house. One of the most iconic lines to come from this movie is, ‘Here’s Johnny!’ However, this line was not in the script.
The Empire Strikes Back
Let’s be honest; Star Wars is life. Yep, we’re obsessed. In our opinion, one of the best movies from the franchise is The Empire Strikes Back, where we witnessed the beautiful burgeoning relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia. Before the pair are split up, Leia and Han kiss and part with an ‘I love you’ and ‘I know.’ Harrison Ford added the ‘I know’ to the scene by his own fruition, but the directors were blown away by its power.
Young Frankenstein is in a league of its own when it comes to Frankenstein adaptations. This movie was a cross between a horror movie and a comedy, so the director enlisted the help of Marty Feldman to bring a hilarious, yet scary character to life. One of the most iconic moments from this movie came when Marty said, ‘What hump?’ and began to move his hump around. This scene was not included in the script but added a sense of humor to the film.
Considering Animal House starred John Belushi, it’s no surprise that this Saturday Night Live comedian would add in a few lines of his own. One of his memorable moments happened in the cafeteria, where he filled up his tray, filled up his mouth, and squirted the mush out of his mouth (yep, it was gross). As if that wasn’t enough, he then completed this scene with the iconic line, ‘I’m a zit – get it?’ Yuh-huh, we get it.
Dumb and Dumber
If you need a movie to cheer you up, Dumb and Dumber will do just that (mostly because you can revel in the fact that you’re not as dumb as them). During this movie, Harry and Lloyd provide us with hilarious, yet highly annoying, storylines and scenes – including the road trip scene, where the bickering pair get into heated arguments and irritating demonstrations. This whole scene was completely improvised, and 15% of the whole movie was, too.
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
If you’re a fan of J.R.R Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings franchise (who isn’t?) you’ll know that the ending of The Fellowship of the Ring is one of the most emotional moments in the whole movie. In this scene, Aragorn discovers evidence to suggest that two of the best Hobbits in the franchise, Merry, and Pippin, had been murdered. In anger, Viggo Mortensen kicks a metal helmet and yells out – because he broke his toe!