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20 Famous Movie Scenes You Never Knew Were Improvised

02 July 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by David Zou

improvised movie scenes

Scriptwriting isn’t easy. Some people spend months trying to perfect a specific scene, trying to write that perfect line that sticks in the mind of those who hear it. Then these guys come along and do it off the top of their heads.

Here are 20 unscripted movie scenes you probably didn’t know.


20. When Harry Met Sally


The Improvisation: Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) are dining at Katz’s Delicatessen in Manhattan, where Sally proves it’s impossible for a guy to tell if a woman’s faking an orgasm… by faking an orgasm. A nearby patron orders her food: “I’ll have what she’s having.”

What Was In The Script: The entire scene was made up in order to give Sally a shining moment. The classic punchline was dreamt up by Crystal.


19. Zoolander


The Improvisation: “Why male models?” asks Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller), moments after David Duchovny has explained exactly that.

What Was In The Script: Stiller actually forgot his line here, and merely repeated a question he’d already posited. Talk about getting into character…


18. The Dark Knight


The Improvisation: A small moment with a big bang. The Joker (Heath Ledger) blows up a hospital, but gets confused when only one tiny explosion happens. Jabbing at his detonator, delayed explosions go off, causing Joker to jump and then hurry off to his awaiting school bus.

What Was In The Script: This scene did happen in the script, but the explosions were delayed, confusing Ledger and prompting this nice little moment of in-character reacting.


17. The Godfather


The Improvisation: “Leave the gun,” says Peter Clemenza to Rocco, who’s just killed Paulie. “Take the cannoli.”

What Was In The Script: The first part of dialogue was present and correct, but the cannoli line was entirely improvised.

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