Full disclosure: When this movie came out and I was
There have been numerous iconic movie moments throughout the years. What makes some of these moments even more impressive is that they were completely unscripted. Here is a list of famous lines and moments in films that were completely ad-libbed.
1. Pretty Woman: The Jewelry Box Scene
The scene where Richard Gere presents Julia Roberts with a necklace and closes the jewelry box lead playfully on her fingers was completely unscripted. Roberts’s genuine laughter in the scene is what makes it such an endearing movie moment.
2. The Dark Knight: Joker’s Slow Clap Scene
When Joker is placed in jail by Jim Gordon, Mayor Garcia shows up at the station and subsequently promotes Gordon to Police Commissioner. As the room applauds, Heath Ledger begins to clap slowly never changing his facial expression. This small improvisation was unsettling and foreshadowed the mayhem that ensued shortly after that scene.
3. Good Will Hunting: The Wife Farting Story
The late great Robin Williams was a master of improvisation and is responsible for many classic scenes in almost all the movies he appeared. One prime example of this is his exchange with Matt Damon about his late wife’s flatulence, which was made up on the spot by Williams. It is the sincerity of both William’s and Damon’s laughter that makes the scene both hilarious and heartwarming.
4. Jaws: “We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat.”
After chumming the waters in order to get a glimpse of the great white shark that they are tracking, Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) gets his first look at the giant killer shark. Shaking with fear, he stands up and utters the completely unscripted line “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”
5. The Shining: “Here’s Johnny.”
Jack Torrance’s final descent into madness is marked by him chasing his wife and child into the hotel bathroom armed with a fire ax. After chopping through the door, he sticks his face through the splintered pieces and says “Here’s Johnny!” a phrase popularized by Ed McMahon on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. This line was not part of Kubrick’s screenplay and was an improvisation by Jack Nicholson.
6. Taxi Driver: “You Talking to Me?”
When Paul Schrader wrote the scene, he simply put “Travis talks to himself in the mirror” – no specific dialog was written. The entire exchange that Travis Bickle has with himself in the mirror was all improvised by Robert DeNiro. To this day “You talking to me?” is one of the most famous and quotable movie lines.