It sometimes happens that on sets the actors feel so much in their character that they decide to completely improvise a scene. It can work like it can be really shitty, but overall we see prowess that must be highlighted as with the greatest improvised scenes in cinema. Today we are going to talk about scenes where we could not have guessed that it was improvisation and yet it was not at all planned by the team and it works anyway.
1. The scene where Captain America picks up Thor’s hammer in “Avengers Endgame”
Originally this epic little scene was not really planned, but on set during the filming of the huge final mess of Avengers EndgameChris Evans decided to grab the hammer that was on the floor thinking it would be badass, and everyone was pissed off at how good an idea it was, we decided to keep the thing.
2. Mark Hamill improvised the scene where he falls into the void in “The Empire Strikes Back”
You all know this scene but you probably don’t know the secret behind it. When Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker he’s his father by extending his hand, Luke basically had to grab him. But the actor decided to improvise and let himself fall, which meant that we had to create this special effect of falling in space afterwards. It has become all the more cult.
3. Susan Sarandon had to stop the car in “Thelma and Louise”
Go your way to avoid spoilers, but at the end of the film Susan Sarandon was actually supposed to stop the car and let herself be arrested by the police, but she decided that an even more significant ending was possible. She asked Geena Davis if it was tempting for the two characters to rush into the ravine and she agreed. Except that it could have been very serious since they had not warned anyone and that no safety net was installed. Luckily a mattress delivery truck was passing below at that time.
4. Marlon Brando improvised his heart attack in “The Godfather”
The Godfather really had to follow Vito Corleone all the way, but as Marlon Brando was a bit pissed off during filming, he decided to cut short his time on set by surprising everyone: he caused his character to die of a heart attack without than the director expects. So we had to rewrite the script to show how Michael took over his father’s business and even two sequels that weren’t planned at all.
5. Keanu Reeves decided to take the red pill in “The Matrix”
Originally the Wachowskis had planned that Neo would take the blue pill and go back to his normal life and we would follow him for an extra hour of film sorting through his emails at the office. But Keanu Reeves thought it was boring, and he really shocked everyone by taking the red pill, which forced the writers to work to come up with a new version of the script.
6. Gandalf had to flee with the Hobbits from the Balrog in “The Lord of the Rings”
Peter Jackson wanted Gandalf to leave with the Hobbits when they are chased by the Balrog but Ian McKellen decided to go off on improv and let out his “you shall not pass” before blowing up the stone bridge with a blow of his stick . He had even planned for the Balrog to grab him and knock him down. A real actor.
7. In “Titanic” the captain had to avoid the iceberg
Originally James Cameron had planned to rewrite the story and make a happy ending by getting the liner to its destination, but that was without counting on the actor Bernard Hill who plays the captain and blew everyone away during of the scene where the liner approaches the iceberg. He simply decided to drive the liner into the false iceberg, which forced the director to rewrite the entire second part of the film and extended shooting by six months. But in retrospect it was so much better that way.
8. In fact, the xenomorph must have been super nice in “Alien”
In the original screenplay for Ridley Scott’s film, the alien known as the Xenormorph was supposed to be really friendly and the film was supposed to end with a card game scene between the crew members and the family of the alien in a good mood. But Bolaji Badejo, the actor who was in the costume decided to energize the scenario a little by pursuing everyone in the ship to kill them. Finally the other actors took to the game and it became absolutely cult.
9. The Raptors completely improvised the “Jurassic Park” kitchen scene.
You necessarily know this super stressful scene in which the kids find themselves trapped in the kitchens chased by raptors, well at the base it was not planned at all in the scenario. The raptors weren’t even actors by the way, but members of the kitchen team who cooked meals for the team. They were a little pissed that we came to shoot in the workplace and they wanted to fuck the plug, without realizing that they had just created a cult scene.
10. Arnold Schwarzenegger really jumped into the lava vat in “Terminator 2”
Listening only to his courage and his love of a job well done, Arnold Schwarzenegger really jumped into the lava vat at the end of Terminator 2. What’s stupid is that it was not planned at all and that he died of it, but look at this scene as it is cult. Since Arnold Schwarzenegger was replaced by a real robot terminator made during the film, it is this same robot who has been governor of California and is the stepfather of Chris Pratt. A nice story.
11. James Franco really cut off his arm in “127 Hours.”
Initially we had to cut a fake arm stuck under a fake stone, but in a moment of studio actor James Franco decided to actually cut it with a teaspoon under the dumbfounded eyes of the team members. The latter were torn between surprise, disgust and admiration in the face of so much dedication in his role on the part of the actor. And in the end we really have the impression that everything is true, normal, it is.
12. Sam Worthington really transferred his consciousness into an avatar in “Avatar.”
You’re probably wondering why we haven’t seen the actor too much since the first film. Avatar, well, quite simply because he really has the body of an Avatar now, and it does not pass phew in the image in traditional films. The actor blew everyone away by going to the end of things and transferring his consciousness into a 2m30 all-blue body, but fortunately for him the many sequels are coming and he will be able to find a job.