Moviegoers know there’s nothing more important than a powerful one-liner. Done well, a strong, quotable line has the power to turn films into cult favourites. Heck, those lines can even enter into our everyday conversations.
Which brings us round to these epic films. These are all movies that have famous one-liners that you could probably quote at the drop of a hat. But none of them were actually written into the script; they were all improvised on the spot by the actors while they were in the zone. Talk about talent…
Zoolander – (“Why male models?”)
Oh man. Who doesn’t love Zoolander? First up on our list of famous unscripted movie lines is this brilliant scene which saw Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) speaking to former hand model JP Prewitt (David Duchovny). Prewitt explains that models have been used as assassins at every notable political assassination over the last hundred years, to which Zoolander asks: “Why male models?” What follows is a long montage of male model assassins, but then when the camera hones in on Zoolander again, he repeats the question: “Why male models?” This wasn’t intentional; Stiller just forgot his words. Awks. But it’s undoubtedly the funniest bit of the scene, with Duchovny quickly quipping back, “Are you kidding? I just told you like a minute ago.” Priceless.
Bladerunner (The ‘Tears in Rain’ monologue)
It’s arguably one of the most moving death soliloquies in a movie. Ever. But that famous ‘tears in rain’ monologue spieled out by the replicant Roy Batty was actually mostly improvised by actor Rutger Hauer. When you’re able to re-write classic lines from such a screenwriter as David Peoples (who also wrote Twelve Monkeys and Unforgiven), you know you’ve got a possible career change in front of you.
Dark Knight – (The Slow Clap)
“What is this doing on a list of famous unscripted movie lines?!” I hear you cry. We’re sorry. But I’m sure you’ll forgive us as a) it’s Batman, and b) it’s one of THE most iconic Batman scenes ever. As everyone in jail breaks out into applause when Gordon is promoted, the camera cuts over to the Joker – who’s menacingly clapping away in his cell. That clap wasn’t included in the script, but Nolan encouraged the crew to go with it. And what a decision. The scene is enough to send shivers down your spine, no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – (“Mein Führer! I can walk!”)
It’s the last line of the whole film – and arguably its most famous. But did you know that it was completely made up by Peter Sellers? It’s hardly surprising; Sellers is regularly credited as a co-writer of the iconic film because he improvised so much throughout. In this final scene, “Mein Führer, I can walk!” was exclaimed as Sellers stood up, seemingly forgetting he was supposed to be disabled. It could actually be the best example of a 50+ years trolling, with so many people taking to the web asking for questions on just WHAT the hell the ending actually means. Nicely done, Sellers.
The Shining (“Here’s Johnny!”)
Thought that the “Here’s Johnny!” quote was an inspired piece of writing from Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson? Unfortunately not, as it doesn’t appear anywhere in the original script! At the time the line was famous thanks to Ed McMahon on The Tonight Show – and it seems that Jack Nicholson took a leaf out of their book after he finished hacking away at the door with his axe.
Jaws – (“We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat”)
As far as famous unscripted movie lines go, you can’t go much bigger than this one. Roy Scheider’s, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” has been named the 5th best movie moment of all time. But it was actually completely made up by Scheider. Give that man a raise, we say.
Casablanca – (“Here’s looking at you, kid”)
Despite being over 70 years old, Casablanca is still one of the most quotable films ever. Which is pretty crazy considerable it was still undergoing rushed rewrites when filming was taking place. The famous line of, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” was just one line that was made up on the spot. It was actually a popular quote in the 1930s, and so when Bogart dropped it into a scene they decided to keep it. And voila – possibly one of the first ever famous unscripted movie lines was born.
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