Off Script to Eternity: 7 Movie Scenes That Were Improvised

Image credit: Legion-Media

These scenes prove that sometimes, going off-script can produce cinematic gold.

Good Will Hunting

There is a famous scene in this 1997 movie in which Matt Damon’s character is talking to his psychologist played by Robin Williamns who at one point begins reminiscing about his late wife panty-whispering when she was asleep.

Apparently, it wasn’t in the script, Robin Williams made it up as he went along while the camera was rolling to make Matt Damon and the entire crew laugh. He succeeded, everybody was soon ROFLing. Director Gus Van Sant then decided to include the take in the final cut of the movie and Robin Williams went on to win an Academy award for the role.

Edge of Tomorrow

Getting Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt to show affection between their characters proved more challenging than the filmmakers had anticipated. The first thing they tried was having the actors kiss but it looked so contrived and unnatural that the idea was soon abandoned.

Then, at one point during shooting, Emily went off-script and kissed Tom out of the blue. Now this unexpected kiss was so sensual and hot that the director decided to include it in the movie. Later, Emily said it just felt like the right moment so she went ahead and kissed her partner.


The iconic scene in which Leo draws a naked Kate Winslet has some improvisation in it too.

Leo was supposed to invite Kate to lie on the sofa to pose for him, but when Kate removed her clothes, Leo must have been rendered speechless because instead of asking her to lie on the sofa he told her to lie on the bed. He instantly realised he’d said the wrong word so he corrected himself and said, “sofa”. James Cameron figured this imperfection was pure cinematic gold and included the blooper in the final cut. He later explained that the reason the scene was brilliant was because watching it, anyone knew instantly what was going through the young man’s head at that moment.


Jake Gyllenhall plays petty thief Louis Bloom who gets a camera and starts freelancing as a stringer, filming gory footage of the aftermath of crimes and accidents.

There is a scene in the movie in which Louis Bloom yells at his own reflection in the mirror, now Jake got so carried away while filming it that he punched and broke the mirror.

Naturally, the scene had to be included in the final cut, even though there was no mention of the mirror getting punched in the script. The downside was that Jake ended up going to hospital and getting 46 stitches in his hand.


Just like Jake Gyllenhaal, Channing Tatum got so carried away with his role that he broke a mirror, only rather than punching it, he headbutted it. The script called for him to punch himself several times and then look in the mirror, so Channing punched himself several times and then headbutted his reflection several times, not only shattering the mirror but also making a hole in the drywall behind it.

According to director Bennett Miller, Channing headbutted the mirror three times, smashed it to bits and then put his head through the drywall behind it, leaving a hole two inches deep. Channing also cut himself pretty bad in the process, there was blood all over the place.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

One of the most memorable scenes in The 40-Year-Old Virgin is the waxing of Steve Carell’s hairy chest. As it turns out, the scene was not in the script and was suggested by Steve Carell. The film authors embraced the idea and Steve then proceeded to have his chest waxed for real: all that screaming and sweating in the movie, that’s not acting, that’s real hair being ripped off Steve’s chest. Talk about dedication to the craft…

The Hateful Eight

There is a scene in the movie for which director Quentin Tarantino borrowed a super expensive 19th century vintage guitar valued at 40 thousand dollars to lend authenticity to his film. The script called for Kurt Russel’s character to smash the guitar to bits. Naturally, the actor was supposed to have destroyed a replica, not the actual 40,000 dollar vintage instrument.

But Kurt Russel made a mistake, grabbing the original vintage guitar and going full Pete Townsend on it. His partner Jennifer Jason Leigh knew it was the real thing so when Kurt went and smashed it Jennifer actually broke character, gaping at the whole scene in unadulturated shock. Seeing how 40,000 dollars just got flushed down the chute anyway, Quentin Tarantino figured he might as well add even more authenticity to the scene by including Jennifer Jason Leigh’s look of disbelief in the final cut.