Friday, March 14, 2014


The hardest part about being a screenwriter is probably having your stuff re-written all the time. Well, that and actually getting a project off the ground. That one is probably harder.

But what sounds good on the page doesn't always translate well to the screen, or it paves the way for a much better exchange. Screenplays are like blueprints in that way. All the information is there and will get you a precise, finished product, but there's always a little room for growth and change. That's especially true if you have talented people in front of the camera and a director that's willing to try things on the fly.

Some of the best scenes in movies have been pieces that weren't in the original script and made up on the fly. ScreenRant has a list of 32 of the greatest unscripted scenes. I dropped a few of my favorites below, but you should really head over and read the entire thing if you have the chance. There are tons more out there, but these are probably the most well known.

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.

GOOD WILL HUNTING - The Farting Wife
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.

JAWS - "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
While chumming the waters in an attempt to lure the deadly great white shark within range, Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) gets his first look at exactly how massive the killer shark truly is. Stunned, startled and filled with fear he stands up and utters the now famous line to Orca Captain Quint (Robert Shaw) completely off-script, "You're going to need a bigger boat.” Turns out, he was right.

As smuggler-turned-hero Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is about to be encased in carbonite, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) reveals her love for him. The script called for Leia to say "I love you" to which Solo was supposed to respond with "I love you too". Ford decided that Solo wouldn't say something like that and instead, changed the line to simply "I know."

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE - "Singin' in the Rain"
Alex (Malcolm McDowell) breaks into a happy song as he and his "droogs" perform a bit of "ultra-violence" and rape. Reportedly Kubrick filmed this scene several times and wasn't happy with it each time - until he told McDowell to just "do anything he wanted". McDowell decided to belt out "Singing in the Rain" and Kubrick was so pleased with how much better the scene became that he acquired the rights to use the song immediately.

The story goes that after Gene Kelly, who made the song famous, actually saw the movie, he was furious. When Kelly, Kubrick and McDowell wound up at the same party at some point after the movie premiered, Kelly refused to speak to either of them.

TAXI DRIVER - "You talkin' to me?"
When screenwriter Paul Schrader wrote this scene it simply said "Travis talks to himself in the mirror" - there was no specific dialog given. Everything that insomnia-plagued taxi driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) says during his faux-conversation was improvised by De Niro on the spot. To this day, whenever someone walks by a mirror they can't help but utter his now famous line "You talking to me?"

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