What’s a movie without a script? A mess, that’s what. Movie scripts are essential for the production of movies and TV shows and include a detailed record of all the action, character dialogues, and other details. But it doesn’t mean the actors can’t put some glitter on their roles. Many of them actually like improvising on the set and do it quite well. Most of the improv scenes end up on the cutting room floor, but those that survive are worth their weight in gold!
Here are seven astounding movie roles that were almost entirely improvised.
1. Randall Peltzer – Gremlins
On oldie but a goodie, Gremlins, is that weird Christmas movie that you either love or hate. When it comes to horror-comedies, there’s no beating Gremlins. Frank Welker voiced the little evil bastard, Stripe, and was allowed to improvise plenty of lines. But he’s not the only one with the improv game! Hoyt Axton was the first guy we see in the movie. He’s the wacky inventor with the Bathroom Buddy, and guess what? That entire selling pitch was improvised.
2. Dr. Peter Venkman – Ghostbusters
If you’ve seen Ghostbusters, you probably remember that Venkman, played by Bill Murray, was basically “Bill Murray as himself.” And the only way to do is to disregard the script and do your own take on the character. Apparently, that worked for him because some sources say he would just ignore the text entirely and go off the rails.
3. The Janitor – Scrubs
Initially, the janitor was supposed to be a cameo, but Flynn did so well that the director insisted or keeping him as a series regular. During a Reddit AMA, Zach Braff said that Neil was not only an incredible actor but also freakishly smart and witty. His lines in the script would often say something like: “Neil makes something up and leaves.” That’s a level of trust that only a few married couples out there can compete with.
4. Seth – Superbad
Superbad is, admittedly, a pretty funny American Pie knockoff comedy, starring Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, who play horny teens. Hill, along with Cera, improvised like crazy when they were given the green light to do so. This is why they were able to sneak in a ton of gags, especially when it comes to Seth.
5. Genie – Aladdin
Did you know that the Genie was written specifically with Robin Williams in mind? That’s largely due to his unbeatable improv magic. As a powerful, all-mighty Genie, he spends most of his time turning into real-world characters and things that should not exist in that world (yet). Reportedly, heaps of extra material were recorded for the movie, and almost all of it was pure improvisation. He recorded so much good stuff that the team had a hard time figuring out which parts to keep since all of them were hilarious.
6. Dwight Schrute – Office
In case you didn’t know, “Office” is a mockumentary about the workers of a paper company. The whole thing is a blast, but sometimes it seems as though none of what you’re seeing is scripted, but rest assured, it mostly is. Every eye contact, every laugh, and every awkward pause they’re all in the script. But when it comes to comedy genius, you have to make exceptions. Steve Carrell and Rainn Wilson would improvise a lot of their lines, which sometimes ruined the 4th wall, as we’d see the other actors laughing their butts off. Like that list of fictitious diseases in the Healthcare episode of season one. Go watch it!
7. Tony Stark – Iron Man
Look, let’s not pretend you haven’t watched Iron Man, okay? It’s a modern action movie classic that started off the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe! But according to Jeff Bridges, it looked more like a student project. But, you know, if students had 200 million dollars to spare. Ha said that on some days, they wouldn’t even get the script, so a couple of key scenes were definitely improvised. Robert Downey Jr. just decided to play a billionaire philanthropist by ear most of the time, and for that, the fans will be forever grateful.