the godfather

6 Movie Ad Libs that Became Classics — And What You Can Learn From Them

Some of the most well known lines from movies, and even scenes, are actually ad libbed, or improvised. Improvisation actually has many benefits for actors.

Below are six famous movie scenes that you may have not known were improvised.

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

“Casablanca,” 1942

Most people are familiar with Humphrey Bogart’s line from the 1942 movie, “Casablanca.” Bogart was teaching actress Ingrid Bergman how to play poker between takes when Bogart first said the famous line. Once they were back on camera, the line came out spontaneously during one of the flashback scenes in Paris.

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

“The Godfather,” 1972

Everybody loves cannoli! Francis Ford Coppola, the director of “The Godfather,” added the line, “don’t forget the cannoli,” last minute to the script. But Richard Castellano decided to take Coppola’s line and make it his own.

“Are you talkin’ to me?”

“Taxi Driver,” 1976

One sentence in the screenplay, which reads, “Travis looks in the mirror,” led to Robert De Niro improvising the entire scene in the movie.

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

“Jaws,” 1975

After Roy Schneider encounters the Great White shark, the scene was supposed to close. Instead, Schneider made up this line to help bring closure to the encounter.

“Son of a b****, he stole my line.”

“Good Will Hunting,” 1997

When Robin Williams goes to the mailbox to read a note, Williams said a different line for each take of the final scene in the movie because nothing was scripted. Co-star Matt Damon, who co-wrote the script, told Boston Magazine in 2015 that after Williams said the well-known line, “It was like a bolt, it was just one of those holy s*** moments, where, like, that’s it.”

Heeeeere’s Johnny!”

“The Shining,” 1980

Nothing is scarier than Jack Nicholson, who portrays Jack Torrance, busting a door down with an ax. During that scene, Nicholson’s character sticks his head through a hole in the door, and says, Heeeeere’s Johnny!” Nicholson’ joke, which referenced Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” was almost cut because director Stanley Kubrick, who is from England, didn’t know the reference.

What are some of your favorite movie ad libs? Let us know below! Want to learn more about acting techniques? Study acting at the New York Film Academy.

Top 5 Films Every Actor Should See

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Let’s be honest. All movies are not created equally. Some films stick with you long after you are finished watching them. A good film can touch your soul, evoke emotions, and teach you lessons about life. From an actor’s perspective, films can also teach the art of film acting, just as they can teach a director how to position a camera. When a person completely disappears into a character, something astonishing happens. They cease performing and simply become a living and breathing person. Here are five examples of films that capture beautiful acting that every aspiring actor should watch and learn from.

1. The Godfather

Regarded as one of the best films ever made, The Godfather provides a master class in film acting. The names on the cast list are almost ridiculous: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, and James Caan to name a few. Anyone of those actors can carry a film on their own, but together the sparks on screen are something to behold. Brando gives an especially moving performance, for which he won the 1972 Academy Award for Acting. Watch the scene that introduces the character Don Vito Corleone and be swept away.

2. Forrest Gump

A near perfect film all around, the epic journey of Forrest Gump provides plenty of substance for actors to sink their teeth into. Tom Hanks gives one of the most specific and nuanced performances of all time as the titular character, and he is surrounded by a cast that includes Gary Sinise, Robin Wright and Sally Field. Each of the characters is unique and damaged, and watching the actors navigate the challenges of their characters lives is something to behold.

3. Taxi Driver

Scorsese and De Niro. De Niro and Scorsese. No matter the order, you can’t go wrong with that pair of film legends. Taxi Driver is a tour de force of filmmaking and acting brilliance. Robert De Niro plays an insomniac with serious delusions and watching him descend into the darkness of his obsessions is truly disturbing. This is the film that gave the world the line, “You talkin’ to me?” and earned a 12 year old Jody Foster an Oscar nod.

4. The Dark Knight

The story of Heath Ledger is tragic, but his acting performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight was transcendent. He took an archetypical character, a character that had already been played, and made it his own. His tortured and brilliant take on the Joker is the highlight of an excellent film and will live forever as one of the best supporting performances in the history of cinema

5. Borat

Comedy is considered even more difficult to act than drama yet comedic acting is often dismissed a lesser art. Sacha Baron Cohen specializes in comedy and in Borat he gives his best performance. A mockumentary, in the film, Cohen is filmed in real life situations, duping people into believing his charade. It’s a side splitting comedy, so funny that the acting almost goes unnoticed but Mr. Cohen delivers a near perfect comedic character.

Watch them, enjoy them, and learn from them. The above films are incredible feats of art with acting performances that can teach actors a lot about their craft. Honorable Mentions: Anything with Meryl Streep or Daniel Day-Lewis.