Why Male Models?
Zoolander (2001) Director – Ben Stiller In this scene involving former hand model J.P. Prewitt (David Duchovny) and the dimwitted male model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), Prewitt – a conspiracy theorist – explains how the fashion industry has been behind every high profile political assassination of the last hundred years. Zoolander asks, “Why male models?” Prewitt answers with a lengthy explanation, after which Zoolander responds again, “Why male models?” Stiller forgot his original line and just repeated his previous line instead. This prompted Duchovny to ad-lib his response “Are you kidding? I just told you like a minute ago.” The scene ends up reinforcing the movie’s narrative of the brainless male model stereotype and Stiller turned a gaffe into one of the funniest parts of the film.
Gun vs. Sword
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Director – Steven Spielberg While chasing Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) after she’s been kidnapped, archaeologist and adventurer Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) runs into a large sword-wielding bad guy dressed all in black. Instead of fighting him in what would surely be a losing whip versus sword battle, Indy simply pulls out his revolver, puts the man down with one shot and moves on. The original script called for a long sword fight but a day earlier Ford got a severe case of food poisoning and didn’t have the energy to film the scene as written. After a discussion with director Steven Spielberg, the scene was changed and became an iconic part of Indiana Jones mythos.
Pretty Woman (1990) Director – Garry Marshall In what became one of the most famous scenes from the film, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) presents call girl Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) with a gorgeous and rather expensive diamond necklace. As Roberts reaches out to touch the precious jewels, Gere – in an unscripted playful moment – quickly snaps the box shut genuinely surprising her. Her laugh was so honest, and the scene so good, that Marshall decided to leave it in the film as is.
Being John Malkovich (1999) Director – Spike Jonze Shortly after John Malkovich meets Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) on the side of the road he wanders off mad. As he does, a car passes by with a man leaning out the window. The man throws a can hitting Malkovich square in the back of the head while yelling, “Hey Malkovich! Think Fast!” – causing the Oscar nominated actor to scream out in legitimate pain. Neither the can throwing nor the reaction were scripted but the drunken extra in the car felt the opportunity was too good to pass up. Jonze thought the scene added to the character’s frustration and left it in. Instead of being fired, the extra was added to the final cut of the film and given a raise.
Know How I Know You’re Gay?
Knocked Up (2007) Director – Judd Apatow Crafting a good and funny insult is one of the hardest things to do but Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd are two of the best – proving it in this scene of put down jokes. This entire exchange between Pete (Rudd) and Ben (Rogen) while in the car was completely ad libbed by the two actors. The scene is only a few seconds long on the final cut but as an extra on the DVD, the scene goes on for over six minutes.
The Cinderella Story
Caddyshack (1980) Director – Harold Ramis One of the best and most quoted scenes from this film is “The Cinderella Story” where groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) mutters a story to himself about an unknown golfer winning The Masters. This entire scene was developed by Murray on the spot saying in his 1999 book Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf: “The Cinderella Story was a spur-of-the-moment idea. ‘Get me some flowers,’ I said. ‘Four rows of mums.”
Good Will Hunting (1997) Director – Gus Van Sant In this scene between therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) and math genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon), Williams proves that comedic-minded actors usually give the best ad libbed scenes. The entire story about Maguire’s flatulent spouse was made up on the spot by Williams and not a part of the original script.
Most Annoying Sound in the World
Dumb and Dumber (1994) Director – Farrelly Brothers There are many scenes in the film that show how moronic and simple-minded best friends Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) can be but this one showed how annoying they can be on car trips – and it was entirely unscripted. Even hitman Joe Mentalino’s (Mike Starr) hissy fit reaction to the scene was unscripted, which makes the scene that much funnier.
The Dark Knight (2008) Director – Christopher Nolan Originally, the Joker (Heath Ledger) was supposed to walk down the street while the explosion at the hospital began, get on the school bus during the scripted pause, and the bus would drive away while the explosion finished. However, Ledger stopped walking during the pause and in a moment of improvisation began fidgeting with the remote detonator in a very Joker-esque manner – bringing a slight amount of dark humor to what would have just been a serious scene.
The Godfather (1972) Director – Francis Ford Coppola Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is more than the cold-hearted head of a powerful Italian mob family. That trait shows when he sentences a man to be beaten as retaliation for the beating of another man’s daughter – all while gently stroking a cat. Thing is, the cat was never part of the original script. Some reports say that Coppola plopped the feline into Brando’s lap just before filming began. Other reports say Brando found “il gatto” roaming around the set, picked him and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse (heh).