If there’s ever been a movie you’ve loved, chances are there’s a line that stood out to you above all others. While many of these were in the original script, oftentimes actors will take it upon themselves to add a line line or two. With that in mind here are 10 of our favorite moments of on-the-spot improvisation
Did you know the iconic mirror scene in Taxi Driver, where Robert De Niro coined the phrase “You lookin’ at me?” was improvised? It turns out, director Martin Scorsese, unsure what he should have De Niro say in this crucial character moment, simply advised that the actor talk to himself. He did so for almost two hours resulting in movie magic.
Casablanca is a somber film about a couple parting, culminating in one of the film’s most iconic lines. “Here’s looking at you kid.” Talk about pulling at the heartstrings. It turns out that this line was actually improvised by Humphrey Bogart. His co-star Ingrid Bergman would play cards with other cast members while learning English, and he overheard her use “Here’s looking at you” in her poker talk. The rest, is history.
Sometimes improvisation results from needing to fix an unexpected problem. That’s exactly what took place during Raiders of the Lost Ark moment, when Harrison Ford casually shoots the blade-wielding enemy in the middle of the city. Originally this was supposed to be an epic fight scene, but on the day of the shoot, Ford was recovering from food poisoning. So instead, they improvised. This resulted in one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
Midnight Cowboy didn’t have a huge budget, meaning the crew would often have to film in locations that were not staged. For example, an actual city street. The famous scene resulting in the “I’m walkin’ here” line was improvised by Dustin Hoffman as he was almost hit by a car during the shoot. He says he was more upset about almost losing the take, but ended up playing it off in-character, resulting in the memorable line.