Some of the greatest and most memorable movie quotes of all time were completely unplanned. Don’t believe us? Take a look at 20 of our favorites below and see for yourself:
1. Annie Hall
Woody Allen‘s famous sneeze as his character, Alvy Singer, picks up a box of cocaine at a party, and after finding out that it’s $2,000 an ounce, he asks what the appeal is…before sneezing all of the powder away into its owner’s face. The sneeze was not scripted, believe it or not. The moment tested well with audiences and the other actors in the scene reacted so perfectly to it that Allen decided to keep it.
Perhaps one of the film’s most memorable lines, Leonardo DiCaprio‘s feeling of invincibility would never have been captured had he not ad-libbed the line, “I’m king of the world!” Titanic has other improvised moments as well, like the scene where Jack teaches Rose to spit and when Rose spits in Cal’s face.
3. Being John Malkovich
Though this moment is contested somewhat, we still love the story. A few extras allegedly snuck some beer onto the set to make the most of long hours of filming. One such extra, who was (may or may not have been) supposed to throw something at actor John Malkovich‘s head from a passing vehicle, shouted “think fast,” making the scene even funnier. Rumor has it that because of the line’s inclusion, the extra had to receive a generous pay raise, all because of a drunken addition to the movie.
4. Blade Runner
As Blade Runner, a film about a bounty hunter seeking androids to “retire,” reaches its conclusion, its main character, Rick Deckard, is saved by the android he is supposed to kill. Right before preparing to die, the android, Roy Batty, gives a monologue reflecting on his past experiences. Though the monologue was indeed scripted, actor Rutger Hauer added the beautiful phrase, “like tears in rain.”
5. Taxi Driver
The script said “Travis talks to himself in the mirror.” Robert De Niro took care of the rest. Because of this, we’re left with one of the best lines in movie history, one of the greatest performances of all time, and the best idea for a theme party ever.
6. Dumb and Dumber
The original script featured the titular idiots to argue over jelly beans in order to test the nerves of the hitman they unknowingly picked up as a hitchhiker. Since this is a movie with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, it evolved into something altogether different. The most annoying sound in the world was, for better or for worse, entirely improvised.
7. Good Will Hunting
Robin Williams received his first and only Oscar for his dramatic role in Good Will Hunting. You may be able to take Robin Williams out of the comedy, but you can’t keep the comedy out of him, and thus, in the midst of a pivotal scene in the movie, Williams broke into an unplanned story about his wife’s flatulence. Matt Damon‘s uncontrollable laughter is genuine, as are the moments the camera shakes because of the cameraman’s laughter. That‘s a magical movie moment.
The most memorable moment of Martin Scorsese‘s 1990 mobster movie is easily Joe Pesci‘s refusal to be called funny. This line was allegedly ad-libbed and inspired by a real incident where Pesci called a not-very-pleasant gangster funny.
9. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Hardcore Star Wars fans may know this bit already: the famous Han Solo moment where he tells Princess Leia “I know” wasn’t scripted. The line was originally written as “I love you too,” but didn’t seem to fit into character. Harrison Ford suggested they change it to something a little more in line with Han Solo’s personality, and thus, the greatest response to “I love you” was born.
10. Pretty Woman
In a gloriously unscripted moment, Richard Gere‘s character was supposed to present Julia Roberts with a stunning diamond necklace, but instead playfully snapped the bling box closed. The unplanned move, and Roberts’ perfect reaction to it, was so honest and fit the film so well, director Garry Marshall kept it in the finished version.
11. Raiders of the Lost Ark
The epic sword fight that was scheduled for this scene (or perhaps it was a whip vs. sword situation) was ignored entirely in favor of this easier-to-film scene. The moment, when Indiana Jones just nonchalantly pulls out his pistol and does away with the swordsman, wasn’t scripted. Spielberg agreed to do it to make filming easier for Harrison Ford, who was feeling a bit under the weather at the time. Thus, movie history was born.
After David Duchovny‘s character explains to Ben Stiller‘s Derek Zoolander why male models have been behind every political assassination of the last 200 years, Stiller forgot the line he was supposed to stay in true Zoolander fashion, so he just repeated his previous line, “Why male models?” This prompted Duchovny’s equally funny ad-lib, “Are you serious? I just told you that a moment ago…”
13. The Godfather
The Godfather has a scene where Peter Clemenza is heading out to whack Paulie, but before he does, his wife asks him to pick up some cannolis. While the scene following Paulie’s death was originally scripted as just “Leave the gun,” Clemenza added a bit of humor and continuity to the film by adding the second part.
14. The Shining
Stanley Kubrick‘s iconic adaptation of the Stephen King classic features the ad-libbed line “Here’s Johnny!” Jack Nicholson improvised this line after chopping his way through the door and sticking his face in. The quote, referencing Johnny Carson’s immensely popular late night show’s introduction, added a bit of humor to an incredibly terrifying moment. It also, strangely, made the moment way creepier too.
Really, though, there was nothing else to be said. After seeing the shark for the first time, this unscripted moment was the only logical reaction a person could have. And now it’s legendary.
16. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up
The extremely memorable, easy-to-imitate moments from both of these films were ad-libbed entirely by stars Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd. Director Judd Apatow had enough faith in both comedians to allow them to go on for several minutes in an unedited clip. The scenes may get a little annoying, but they are undeniably funny.
17. Midnight Cowboy
Legend has it that this NYC cab ignored the indications that a movie was shooting on this street and drove down anyway. Dustin Hoffman‘s brilliant reaction was genuine and in character, and the rest is history.
Arguably the most iconic line in the entire film, this one was ad-libbed by Humphrey Bogart during filming. Apparently, it’s something he would say to Ingrid Bergman while teaching her poker between takes.
19. The Silence of the Lambs
While the line about eating a census taker’s liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti may have been in the script (as well as the book), the terrifying slurping hiss Anthony Hopkins lets out next was certainly not. It was left in the film because, hello, it’s totally the creepiest thing a cannibal could do after discussing a meal.
Bill Murray, as surely everyone knows, can do literally anything. He’s the greatest. Clearly director Harold Ramis knew that too — the script for Caddyshack featured a scene where Murray’s character Carl emulates a kid announcing his fantasy sports moment. Murray simply asked for four rows of mums, and boom! Movie magic.