50 Greatest Improvised Movie Scenes

Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

The Improvisation: “Gooooood morning Vietnam! Hello campers, remember Monday is Malaria day! That’s right, time to take that big orange pill…” Robin Williams improvises wildly as the chatty radio host.

What Was In The Script: Barely a single word of the broadcasts, which were all ad-libbed by Williams.

Philadelphia Story (1940)

The Improvisation: James Stewart surprised even Cary Grant when, during a drinking scene, his improvised a little hiccup. Grant’s surprise is written plain as day when he says “Excuse me”, before pushing down a laugh.

What Was In The Script: The scene had no hiccup, sadly...

Caddyshack (1980)

The Improvisation: “It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!” Bill Murray improvises his own fantasy sports moment, giving himself a running commentary before swiping at a golf ball.

What Was In The Script:
There were apparently just two lines of stage direction for this, with director Harold Ramis encouraging Murray to go the improv route.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

The Improvisation: Hannah (Emma Stone) and Jacob (Ryan Gosling) share a wonderful evening together at Jacob’s swish pad, where he woos her with his patented Dirty Dancing lift – something that wasn’t in the script.

What Was In The Script: In a script dated February 2010, there are only bits of the scene we saw on-screen, while other stuff is totally different – including a montage of scenes post-date.

“Well when I go out dancing with my friends and we get drunk, we try and do the Dirty Dancing lift,” explains Gosling. “That’s where it came from and it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Superbad (2007)

The Improvisation: The semen conversation between the cops and McLovin was almost entirely improvised, and ended up being almost four minutes long. It was cut down to just one minute for the finished film.

What Was In The Script:
The bare bones (ahem) of the semen chat were there, but the actors let rip to give it a little more oomph.

The Warriors (1979)

The Improvisation: “Warriors! Come out to play!” shouts Luther (David Patrick Kelly).

What Was In The Script:
Kelly improvised the line himself and based it on something that an old neighbour used to shout at him.

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002)

The Improvisation: “What do you say I take you home and eat your pussy?” deadpans John Barrowman in this DTV schlock. Cue a raunchy shower scene…

What Was In The Script: Apparently Barrowman ad-libbed the line in order to get a reaction out of the actress, feeling certain it would get edited out before the film got released. It didn’t.

Dumb & Dumber (1994)

The Improvisation: “Hey, wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?” asks Lloyd (Jim Carrey), before letting loose a horrendous, blaring scream that sounds like a cow stuck in a ditch. Yep, really annoying.

What Was In The Script: There was a script for this film?

50/50 (2011)

The Improvisation: Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s cancer-sufferer takes an electric razor to his hair, shaving it all off.

What Was In The Script: According to Seth Rogen, there was no head-shaving in the script whatsoever – the idea came to them during shooting. They got it done in one take, which explains Rogen's look of horror.

Tarzan The Ape Man (1932)

The Improvisation: Expert yodeller Johnny Weissmuller came up with Tarzan’s iconic, echoing cry himself, forever cementing it in history.

What Was In The Script: The script merely called for Tarzan to sound a cry that would summon all of his jungle friends. Weissmuller arguably went above and beyond the call of duty.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.