Top 10 Iconic Movie Moments That Happened By Accident

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Top 10 Iconic Movie Moments That Happened By Accident

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Daniel Girolamo
These unscripted movie moments put the screenwriter to shame! For this list, we'll be looking at unintentional lines and actions in film scenes that went on to become legendary. Our countdown includes “1917”, “Casino Royale”, “The Usual Suspects”, and more!
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Top 10 Iconic Movie Moments That Happened By Accident


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Iconic Movie Moments That Happened By Accident.

For this list, we’ll be looking at unintentional lines and actions in film scenes that went on to become legendary.

If we missed out on your favorite off the cuff incident, make sure to leave your selections in the comments below!


#10: Pacino Takes a Fall

“Scent of a Woman” (1992)

While Al Pacino is best known for his work in “The Godfather” trilogy and “Scarface”, his role as the blind Lt. Col. Frank Slade in 1992’s “Scent of a Woman” resulted in his first and only Oscar. The legendary actor tried to remain in character by not allowing his eyes to focus on other objects. In the latter half of the movie, Pacino was so committed to being visually impaired that he accidentally walked directly into a garbage can and fell over on the streets of New York City. Although costar Chris O’Donnell quickly rushed to get Pacino up, the two never broke character. The resulting scene has become a great demonstration of an actor’s commitment to a role.


#9: Cher Can't Pronounce “Haitians”

“Clueless” (1995)

SB [“As if”] Although Cher could be materialistic and a bit spacey, she was also great at making us laugh. One of her most hilarious moments wasn’t exactly written down in the script. During a debate about immigration policy, Cher pronounced the word Haitians as “Hat-ee-ans.” As it turned out, that pronunciation wasn’t planned. Alicia Silverstone made that debate decision on all her own. Instead of reshooting the scene, director Amy Heckerling thought Cher’s turn of phrase really fit the teen’s personality. Keeping Alicia Silverstone’s clueless pronunciation in this fun scene was definitely the right move.


#8: Extras Disrupt Schofield’s Sprint

“1917” (2019)

The genius of Sam Mendes’s war epic is that it seamlessly stitches together long takes to make it seem like the cameras are capturing everything in real time. In the climactic scene, Lance Corporal Schofield must run alongside a trench as a battle rages to deliver a message that could save lives. As Schofield headed toward his target, he ran into two extras by mistake. The collisions knocked him down and off his prescribed path. But since the camera kept rolling, Schofield picked himself up each time and continued his sprint. His falls definitely helped make the scene feel more realistic and desperate. Thanks to director Sam Mendes keeping Schofield's tumbles in the movie, seeing him get up and get to his goal is extremely satisfying.




#7: Daniel Craig's Iconic Beach Shot

“Casino Royale” (2006)

While some fans were skeptical that Craig could capture the sultry side of 007’s personality, everything changed with one accidental beach scene. An iconic moment in “Casino Royale” sees Bond emerge from the water in a blue swimsuit. Craig’s chiseled physique and devil-may-care attitude during his wet walk quickly helped make him into an international heartthrob. In an interview with ITV’s “The South Bank Show, Craig claimed that he wasn't supposed to get out of the water at all. But after hitting a sand shelf, he was forced to stand and walk to shore. We’re willing to bet a lot of fans were happy that Craig hit that obstacle.


#6: Chrissie Watkins Really Screamed

“Jaws” (1975)

SB [“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”] A giant great white shark tormented both the people in Amity Island and audiences around the world. In the unforgettable opening scene, a swimmer named Chrissie Watkins is attacked and fatally wounded. When she was pulled underwater, her gut wrenching scream was so loud that many believed she was truly in pain from the stunt. But she thankfully was completely fine. As it turned out, actress Susan Backlinie didn’t know when her Christine character would be pulled underwater. This made her surprised scream an organic shriek that made many moviegoers afraid to hit the beach.




#5. Viggo Mortensen Breaks His Toes

“The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (2002)

Trying to emulate pain in a movie can be difficult. But when the suffering is real, the performance can climb to new levels. When Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn rides up to a burning pile of orcs, he believes his friends perished in the battle. Director Peter Jackson instructed Mortensen to kick one of the helmets towards a camera to signify heartbreak. The huge, agonizing scream we hear during this scene wasn’t acting. The wail was real because Mortensen broke two toes on the final kick. While it's a shame that the actor was in so much pain, his agony elevated his performance and resulted in one of the most haunting scenes of the series.


#4: Tyler Really Gets Punched

“Fight Club” (1999)

In a movie that has “fight” in the title, you would expect there to be a lot of brawls throughout the 139-minute runtime. Although most of these dust ups were staged, the most memorable hit we see on screen was real. The opening punch Edward Norton throws during his character’s first fight actually connected with Brad Pitt’s ear. We wince and laugh as the actor deals with the painful blow. While Norton said David Fincher told him to throw a real punch, Pitt had no idea it was coming. This improvised hit was a great character moment that helped set the tone for the violence and comedy audiences would see.



#3: The Lineup Scene Was Supposed to Be Serious

“The Usual Suspects” (1995)

This 1995 thriller is best known for two things: the twist ending and the lineup scene. In the film, five men end up in a police lineup after being falsely accused of hijacking a truck. They were originally supposed to read something for the officers in a completely serious way. But the actors found it hard to keep a straight face because Benicio del Toro kept passing gas during takes. Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie later commended the actor’s flatulent moment after admitting it was never in his original script. He felt that seeing the group laugh during a supposedly serious event helped create a sense of camaraderie amongst the main characters. As a bonus, it made what could’ve been a standard lineup into an unforgettable scene.

#2: DiCaprio Hurts His Hand While Filming

“Django Unchained” (2012)

It was hard to believe the ordinarily charming Leonardo DiCaprio was capable of playing the brutal and vicious Calvin Candie. He was so committed to portraying this evil and morally bankrupt man that he actually bled for the role. During the heated dinner scene, DiCaprio cut his hand on glass while violently slapping the table. Instead of stopping to treat his wound, Leo continued on and never broke character. The blood-fueled rant was so scary and authentic that Tarrantino kept it all in the final cut. While Leo switched to fake blood when he directly interacted with a fellow actor, his initial injury made every moment in this intense scene feel real.



#1: Reckless Driver Leads to Iconic Line

“Midnight Cowboy” (1969)

While “Midnight Cowboy” is well-known today, it had a low production budget. The crew couldn’t even afford extras while walking down a busy New York City Avenue. With the camera set up from afar, Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight began walking towards the crosswalk. Unbeknownst to the actors, the cab shot through the traffic light and almost hit Hoffman, who instinctively yelled (inser broll for I”m walking here)” The ad-libbed take was so good that director John Schlesinger inserted it right into the movie. It’s impossible to count how many other movies and tv shows have imitated and referenced this improvised line. If it wasn’t for the actions of one speedy cab driver, we might not have one of cinema’s best pieces of dialogue.
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