Improvised Movie Scenes That Changed Movies, Created Characters And Stole The Show

Improvised movie scenes are not as well publicized as they ought to be.

Sometimes the real magic in a movie happens when the actors go off script and improvise based on their own understanding of their characters. Some of the most iconic lines and scenes in film history have been unscripted.

Take for instance the Harry Potter series. Working with child stars is demanding but worth it when the actors are in tune with their characters. One such brilliant example is Draco Malfoy’s comeback to Goyle. When Draco questions Goyle (who is actually Harry in disguise) wearing glasses, he responds that he needed them to read. Without batting an eyelid, Draco smoothly counters with, “I didn’t know you could read”, a line that he improvised.

Another improvisation is Barty Crouch’s habit of tongue flicking, a tic that the actor introduced into his character.

As Movie Pilot reported, one of the strongest improvised movie scenes in the Harry Potter franchise occurred in the Chamber of Secrets when Lucius Malfoy chastises Harry, sarcastically remarking that he hoped that Harry will be around to save the day. Daniel Radcliffe looked right at him and answered, “Don’t worry, I will be”. A powerful line improvised by the then twelve-year-old actor.

Jason Isaacs, the actor behind Harry Potter‘s Lucius Malfoy, spoke to Hero Complex about this iconic improvised movie scene.

“I remember my very first day, I improvised a line. My first day, probably my first shot, I had to kind of flounce out of a room when Dumbledore, played by the late, great Richard Harris, put me in my place, and there was no line written, no exit line. And I’d been humiliated, and my plan had come to nothing. And I said to Chris Columbus, ‘Don’t you think there should be a line?’ And he said, ‘Well, say something. Say whatever you like.’ So we did another take, and I hadn’t told anyone what I was going to do. And as I turned to leave, I looked at Daniel, and I said, ‘Let us hope Mr. Potter will always be around to save the day.’ And then Daniel, who was all of 12, stepped right up to me, looked me right in the eye, and said ‘Don’t worry. I will be.’ A chill went down my spine. And as he did it, I thought, ‘Christ, this kid is good.'”

Some more examples of iconic improvised movie scenes are from blockbuster movies, with lines often defining the character.

Scorsese’s Taxi Driver starring Robert DeNiro featured a scene where the actor talks to himself in the mirror. The entire dialogue, as well as the character’s mannerisms, were all improvised movie scenes, created by DeNiro.

Another super hit line was from the thriller Jaws, where Police Chief Brody warns the captain that he was going to need a bigger boat. The famous line was improvised by actor Roy Schneider during filming.

Hannibal Lecter’s startling sucking sound effect in the iconic movie Silence of the Lambs was originally something Anthony Hopkins did to freak out his co-star Jodie Foster and kept on by the director.

And according to Screen Rant, in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s Joker, an iconic character all by itself, improvised a chilling slow clap when Gordon is promoted, grabbing everyone’s attention.

Leonardo DiCaprio is also well versed in improvised movie scenes, and has performed unscripted in the Wolf of Wall Street, where he hilariously tries to open the door of his car with his foot, as well as in Django Unchained where he slams his hand on the table, breaking a glass and cutting himself. He continued to shoot and the director included the bloody hand in the film. While this only touches on some iconic scenes, it goes to show that improvised movie scenes may just be a real measure of the art.

Watch Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd’s improvised scene in 40 Year old Virgin:

You can also watch some more iconic improvised scenes here:

[Photo: Stephen Lovekin, Nick Elgar / Getty Images]

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