Last month we discusses a few of the most famous scenes in cinema that were actually improvised. Casablanca, The Dark Knight, and The Shining are all perfect examples of movies where actors chose to improvise their scene and ended up making something iconic to the industry to this very day, but there are plenty of other famous examples as well. Read on for a few more great examples of improv in film. Of course, be wary of spoilers if you haven’t seen these films!
The Empire Strikes Back
Released in 1980, The Empire Strikes Back was the highly awaited sequel to George Lucas’ groundbreaking Star Wars movie following Luke, Leia, and Han. Highly regarded as the best Star Wars film, this movie has one of the most popular improvised scenes in cinema history – the “I love you” scene. Towards the end of the film, the evil Darth Vader gets his hands on Han Solo and traps him in carbonite so he can be transported to the villainous Jabba the Hutt. As he’s being imprisoned, Leia finally confesses her love to Han with an “I love you” and instead of Harrison Ford following the script with an “I love you too”, he says “I know.” Ford felt like this was more in line with the character, and it ended up going down as one of the best scenes in the series.
Considered “the very first summer blockbuster”, Jaws is easily considered one of the classics. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically about Roy Scheider’s character attempting to take out a great white shark that’s been terrorizing his hometown. Throughout the filming of the movie, the cast and crew would constantly say the phrase “you’re gonna need a bigger boat” due to one of the support boats used for filming being too small for their needs. Scheider decided he would try and ad-lib it into the movie a few times and see if any of them stuck, and one of them did. The scene in question was the first time his Scheider’s character sees the shark, where the shock and awe on his face with the improvisation made for a home run.
Based on Nicholas Peleggi’s book Wiseguy, Goodfella’s is a mob movie all about the rise and fall of American mobster Henry Hill, who is portrayed by Ray Liotta. One of the most famous scenes of the film is the club scene featuring Joe Pesci as one of Henry’s cronies, Tommy Devito. After Pesci’s character shares a story where everyone is laughing hysterically, Liotta’s character compliments him with a “You’re really funny”. Pesci decided to go off script and blow up on Liotta’s character, asking him things such as “I’m funny how? Funny like I’m a clown?”. While it may seem like Pesci just came up with this off the top of his head, it was actually inspired by an actual experience Pesci had when he was a waiter and told a mobster that he was funny. Director Martin Scorsese even had Pesci and Liotta keep it from the other actors to make it feel more legitimate.