14 Movies and Series Where Actors Improvised and Made Their Scenes Better
Actors don’t always follow the script and directions on set. Sometimes, they add new details to the scenes accidentally or on purpose. Such improvisations often help to tell more about the characters and create memorable scenes.
House of the Dragon
The last words Viserys said were “my love.” Paddy Considine, who portrayed him, said it was his improvisation. He explained the meaning of the phrase — in his interpretation, Viserys wasn’t talking to Alicent, sitting next to him, but to his first wife, Aemma, because she “is the one that comes to meet him” when he passes away.
In the original script, Anya Taylor-Joy finds out about Tyler’s betrayal and cries. But Anya thought it wasn’t very believable, so she improvised. In this new scene, she attacks Tyler, showing her rage.
The White Lotus
In the farewell scene, Tanya made Belinda cry. After that, Jennifer Coolidge walked through the door and remembered she’d forgotten her sunglasses. She returned to the set and took them, so the scene changed completely. Natasha Rothwell, who played Belinda, said, “Just salt in the wound on Belinda’s big cathartic moment. So I just used it to fuel my upset.”
Ticket to Paradise
Before filming one of the funniest scenes, everyone on the set wanted to discuss it, but George Clooney and Julia Roberts just wanted to do it and not worry about a thing. They didn’t even ask the choreographer for help. So, this is how the episode where Clooney shows his true dad dance moves was made.
The director of one of the episodes said that initially, the scene where Diana and Mohamed Al-Fayed met was supposed to be shorter. But there was such amazing chemistry between Elizabeth Debicki and Salim Daw that Debicki suggested trying filming without even rehearsing it. So, she and Daw started improvising and adding new lines to their conversation.
David Harbour, who played Jim Hopper, and Winona Ryder, Joyce Byers, improvised on the set of season 4. Their first kiss was scripted, but the second one was added by the actors when Hopper was convincing Byers that both of them would be saved.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
In one of the scenes, MJ, played by Zendaya, is not sure that Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man is real, so she wants to try his Spidey sense and throws bread at him. This was the actress’s idea. She noticed a bread basket and asked for the director’s permission to use it.
Don’t Look Up
In the first scene in the Oval Office, Meryl Streep showed a masterclass in improvisation. For each take — and there were 20-25 of them — she’d come up with a new absurd conversation.
Emily in Paris
In the episode Scents & Sensibility, after the football game, Emily and Alfie go for a walk around Paris. The actors decided to do things differently from the script. After several takes, Lucien Laviscount hugged Lily Collins after asking if she was okay with that.
Dune: Part One
Thanks to Jason Momoa, there are some unplanned scenes in the film. He was dressed as his character and went to the desert, where the filming was supposed to happen. They were climbing the mountains and filming their journey on camera. Momoa showed the result to the director. He liked the idea and decided to reshoot these scenes professionally and add them to the film.
In one of the episodes of season 2, the characters were playing pall-mall. It turned out that most of this scene was improvised. The actors were allowed to play without any scripted choreography, so the scene looks very playful and helps develop the romantic dynamics between Anthony and Kate.
Sae-byuk first appears in the series as a passer-by Gi-hun collides with when running away from debt collectors. When she falls, she drops her coffee. Gi-hun tries to pick it up and give it to Sae-byuk in a comedic way. The director reveals that this is actually an improvised scene, and you can see Jung Ho-Yeon, hiding her face and chuckling in that scene.
Enola Holmes 2
One of the improvisations of Millie Bobby Brown, who portrayed Enola, was the line she said to Sherlock, “Crazy idea, have you ever considered a flatmate?” The director said he wanted to delete the line at first because it seemed “inappropriate for the time setting of the film.” But later, he discovered that the word “crazy” was already used at the beginning of the Victorian era, so he kept the scene.
Austin Butler, the actor in the main role, criticized the scene where Elvis makes the band play the modern song “That’s Alright (Mama).” Butler said, “This just is corny. This is not working. It’s fake.” When he went away for a break, the director told the musicians to play the song in the wrong way on purpose. So, when Austin returned, he, like Elvis, had to work with the musicians and give them directions to get the sound he needed.
What other improvised scenes do you know?