When you’re making a movie, things definitely don’t always go as planned. But as it turns out, sometimes that’s actually a good thing. A perfect and extremely well-known example of this would be the “I’m walking here!” scene from Midnight Cowboy, where actors Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight were almost hit by a real New York City cab driver. Of course, this wasn’t anything that the cast and crew could’ve planned for, but by staying in character, Hoffman turned the scene into one of the most famous moments in movie history.
For this list, we’ll be taking a look at more movie scenes that went unexpectedly off script, but still ended up making it into the final cut of the film. In most instances, these mistakes ended up making the movie better, while other times the filmmakers simply didn’t have an alternative. Moments of simple improvising won’t be included here, especially if the actors went into the scene planning to go off script.
Here are 15 Movie Mistakes That Were Left In On Purpose.
15. Candie’s Bloody Hand – Django Unchained
This scene from Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 movie Django Unchained is easily the most notable movie mishap in recent memory. On the off chance that you haven’t already heard, the blood flowing out of Leonardo DiCaprio’s hand in this scene certainly wasn’t part of the plan.
The moment comes during Calvin Candie’s climactic monologue, where the sadistic plantation owner threatens to kill Django’s wife right at the dinner table in front of her husband. After already filming a few takes of the monologue, DiCaprio ended up slamming his hand onto the table and shattering a real glass in the process.
But as the blood started to flow, DiCaprio refused to break character. At one point you can even see the actor picking shards of glass out of his blood-soaked palm. The take was so good that Tarantino decided to film the rest of the character’s scenes with DiCaprio wearing a bandage.
14. Star-Lord Drops the Infinity Stone – Guardians of the Galaxy
Much like Robert Downey Jr. playing Iron Man or Ron Perlman playing Hellboy, Chris Pratt was born to be Star-Lord. The actor is funny, charming, and a bit of a goofball; which makes it seem as though this scene from Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t an accident at all.
When Star-Lord and the other members of the Guardians are finally introduced to the Collector, Star-Lord offers up the Orb that he’s taken from the abandoned planet of Morag. Little does he know: it contains an Infinity Stone, one of the most powerful objects in the entire universe.
When Pratt presented the artifact, he ended up accidentally dropping the orb to the ground. But without missing a beat, the actor snatched up the orb and re-presented it as though nothing had happened. It was revealed on the movie’s commentary that this was an honest error, but director James Gunn liked the take so much that he decided to leave it in.
13. Aragorn’s Broken Foot – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Viggo Mortensen famously became so wrapped up in his portrayal of Aragorn while filming the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that he petitioned to perform many of the character’s stunts. He was known for keeping his weapon with him at all times, and the film’s swordmaster even called the actor the best swordsman he had ever trained. Evidence of this can be seen in The Fellowship of the Ring, when Mortensen deflects a knife thrown at him by a Uruk-hai. This is an actual parry, as the stunt man who threw the knife greatly misjudged his aim and ended up hurling it straight at the actor’s face!
However, this particular entry comes from the second installment, where Aragorn kicks a Uruk-hai’s helment in despair after thinking Merry and Pippin had been killed. The kick was planned, and in fact, the take had already been shot three times previously, with the actor getting the helmet to fly closer and closer to the camera with each take just as Peter Jackson had requested. But on the fourth take the helmet came the closest and the actor let out his most powerful scream yet. Only later did the rest of the cast and crew find out that Mortensen had broken two of his toes in the process.
12. Westley’s Knocked Unconscious – The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is a movie that the entire family can enjoy together — and quote endlessly at each other. So it may be a bit surprising that one of the actors was seriously injured during filming, especially considering that it wasn’t during one of the film’s sword fights. Despite performing many of their own sword stunts, Cary Elwes and Many Patinkin came out of each sword fight without any substantial injuries. However, Elwes still managed to sustain a serious head injury during the course of filming.
When Count Rugen is talking Westley hostage, the scene called for actor Christopher Guest to clock Elwes over the head with the butt of his sword. Since they didn’t have any prop swords handy at the moment, Elwes insisted that Guest should just give him a light tap with the real sword. The next thing Elwes knew, he was waking up in the hospital with stitches being sewn into his head.
11. Pris’s Shattered Elbow – Blade Runner
Before the long-awaited sequel Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters later this year, many will be taking a look back at this 1982 classic. Production on the original Blade Runner was notoriously difficult, with the studio and the director constantly battling over creative control. But there was one incident on set that everyone seemed to agree made the movie better, all at the expensive of actress Daryl Hannah.
Hannah was previously a gymnast, and even suggested to director Ridley Scott during her audition that she could incorporate her training into the scene where she fights Deckard. However, even the most skilled gymnast isn’t immune to the occasional slip — especially when you’re working on a set where it’s constantly raining.
In the scene where Pris meets Sebastian, the actress tried to make a speedy escape and ended up sliding into a car and smashing the window with her elbow. The fall wasn’t planned, and the glass wasn’t fake. However, Hannah didn’t break character and the take ended up in the final cut of the film.
10. Inconsistent Dialogue – Pulp Fiction
Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaking visionary with a flair for pithy dialogue. Those who have worked on his films have said that there’s no room for improvising on set, and that as far as the film is concerned, the script is a holy book and Tarantino is God himself. But even with such an eye for detail, Tarantino’s movies are not without their flaws.
Many have pointed out how the bullet holes in Pulp Fiction appear behind Jules and Vincent before they’re ever shot at. And while some fans have swooped in with multiple theories about how this actually makes sense, in this instance it seems like a legitimate flaw.
However, the altered dialogue in the first and last scene of the film (which covers the same series of events) is actually inconsistent on purpose. The line Honey Bunny yells that incites the robbery is altered in the last scene, though in the script it is written exactly the same. Tarantino decided to keep the difference to illustrate how the scene has shifted it’s point of view from Pumpkin and Honey Bunny to Jules and Vincent.
9. Second Degree Burns – The Wizard of Oz
When the Wicked Witch of the West makes her grand appearance in The Wizard of Oz, she arrives out of nowhere in a plume of red smoke, which was made possible by a trap door on the stage floor. The effect is seamlessly done, and the creepy performance by Margaret Hamilton only makes the special effects seem all that more terrifying.
However, when the character takes her leave of Munchkinland the red smoke begins to leak out of the floor before the actress takes her place over the trap door. It’s a brief mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. The exit is accompanied by an enormous flash of fire as the Wicked Witch seems to disappear right before our eyes.
So why not just reshoot the take until the timing was perfect? As it turns out, the cast and crew did go for a second attempt, which resulted in a serious malfunction and caused the actress to receive first and second degree burns on her face and arms. After the actress’s cape became stuck in the trap door, the fire heated up Hamilton’s make-up, which just so happened to contain copper. The burns took weeks to heal, which lead to the slightly flawed first take being used for the final cut of the film.
8. Fenster’s Farts – The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspect is perfect heist film filled with drama, action, humor, and, as it turns out, flatulence. Though the line-up scene is one of the funniest in the film, it was actually written to be 100% serious. Director Bryan Singer even became agitated with the actors for being unable to keep a straight face, but upon rewatching the footage he decided to recut the scene and go with a funnier version instead.
In an interview, actor Kevin Pollak admitted that all the laughing came out of Benicio Del Toro being unable to hold in his gas. Pollock said that the actor kept farting take after take without fail, which explains why not a single actor is able to keep it together throughout the course of the scene, especially when the character of Fenster is center stage.
This isn’t the first time that flatulence has made it into the final cut of a film. The fart scene in Rain Man was also unplanned, though Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise where both able to remain in character without breaking into laughter, despite being stuck in a telephone booth together when Hoffman let loose.
7. Captain Kirk’s Black Eye – Star Trek Beyond
In the Star Trek reboot trilogy, Captain Kirk and his fellow crew members aboard the Starship Enterprise find themselves in far more fist fights than they ever did in the original series. Thus, they spend a good amount of the movies covered in bloody scrapes and purple bruises courtesy of the make-up department. However, after a fight scene gone wrong in Star Trek Beyond, Chris Pine actually got to sport a real injury for a few scenes in the movie.
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time that Pine was injured on set. A few years prior the actor broke his finger while throwing a punch on the set of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. But in Beyond, it was actually Idris Elba taking a swing at Pine. In an interview, Pine spoke of the fight, saying “He [Elba] was exhausted and sweating and I could see the punch being thrown. I kind of knew instinctually that it was going to hit me. And it did.” Instead of covering the black eye with make-up, the filmmakers decided to keep it in film. As for Elba? He joked that Pine had it coming.
6. Saul Silver’s Headband – Pineapple Express
When many of the actors end up doing their own stunts on a stoner action movie, a number of real-life injuries are inevitable. During the making of Pineapple Express, Seth Rogen fractured his finger during a fight scene and Danny McBride’s head was split open after a bong was smashed over it. But it was James Franco’s injury that ended up altering his character’s wardrobe for the remainder of the film.
When Dale and Saul are running around the woods in the middle of the night, Franco ended up running into a tree a little too hard and can be seen screaming in agony on the forest ground. The collision required Franco to get a few stitches in his forehead.
Instead of trying to cover the stiches with make-up, or struggle to make the injury look consistent for the remainder of filming, Franco and Rogen just decided to add a headband to the character’s wardrobe. Considering that Saul Silver is an eccentric pot dealer, audiences probably didn’t think twice about the additional head piece.
5. Head-Butting a Mirror – Foxcatcher
Channing Tatum has certainly proven himself to be a diverse actor, capable of handling comedy, drama, action, and, of course, the occasional chick flick. Channing’s performance as real U.S. Olympic Wrestling champion Mark Schultz in 2014’s Foxcatcher was as visceral as they come, and the actor sustained multiple injuries on set throughout the course of filming.
Even if you’ve only gotten a chance to see the trailer, the powerful shot of the actor slamming his head multiple times in a mirror is hard to forget. Apparently, the actor was so caught up in the moment that punching himself in the face wasn’t enough punishment for his character. So Tatum slammed his head three times into the mirror, breaking through the glass, the back of the mirror, and even the drywall! The actor sliced his forehead open, and he’s actually bleeding throughout the remainder of the scene.
As if this wasn’t already enough commitment, Tatum also told Mark Ruffalo to actually rough him up during one of their wrestling scenes, which resulted in a slap so hard that it punctured the actor’s eardrum. This real-life injury also ended up making it into the final cut of Foxcatcher.
4. Punching a Mirror – Apocalypse Now
While we’re on the subject of actors battling mirrors, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Martin Sheen’s opening scene in Apocalypse Now. If you’ve seen Hearts of Darkness — the documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now — you already know that the cast and crew went to some dark places while making the movie, and this scene is no exception.
The scene was filmed on Martin Sheen’s 36th birthday, and the actor admits to being heavily intoxicated while the filming took place. Sheen punching the mirror wasn’t planned, nor was the mirror safety-proof, and it ended up slicing the actor’s hand. So yes, that’s real blood that Sheen ends up smearing across his face.
Much like Foxcatcher, the unplanned moments goes to show how unstable each character has become, to the point where neither Mark Shultz or Benjamin Willard could even stand to see their own reflection. Though both scenes didn’t go as planned, they were simply too powerful to leave out of the final cut.
3. “But why male models?” – Zoolander
If you’re the writer, director, producer, and lead actor of a big-budget comedy, it’s understandable if you forget a line now and again while in the middle of filming. Ben Stiller certainly had a lot on his plate while helming this 2001 comedy, and we certainly don’t fault him for forgetting his line while filming this scene with Christine Taylor and David Duchovny.
Duchovny plays former hand model turned conspiracy theorist J.P. Prewitt. Just like Fox Mulder, this Duchovny character has the proof to back up his crazy claims. The mistake here comes after Duchovny explains to Zoolander how the fashion industry has been behind every major assassination over the last two centuries. Since male models are in peak physical condition and always do what they’re told, they just so happen to make the perfect assassins.
But by the time Duchovny finished his monologue Stiller had forgotten his next line and ended up repeated the previous one: “But why male models?” It just so happened that Derek Zoolander is supposed to be utterly clueless, and since Duchovny was able to roll with the mistake, this is the shot that made it into the movie.
2. Head-Bumping Stormtrooper – Star Wars
This is one of the better-known entries on this list, simply due to the sheer popularity of Star Wars, coupled with the fact that this take definitely did not go as planned. The moment comes when a group of stormtroopers is sent to investigate a locked door on the Death Star, and upon entering the room, the unusually tall trooper hits his head on the low clearance.
George Lucas not only kept the take in the final cut of the film, he also had the sound effect of the head-bump amplified in the 2004 DVD re-release of the movie. Lucas also paid a tribute to the gaffe in Attack of the Clones, by having Jango Fett bump his head in a similar fashion.
The small clip has been viewed on Youtube millions of times, and the unidentified stormtrooper has even been given his own page on Star Wars Wookieepedia. The fact that the actor portraying this particular Stormtrooper has never 100% been veryified has no doubt added to the scene’s novelty.
1. Broken Ribs – The Godfather
The only possible good outcome of a fight scene gone wrong is that it will look more realistic. However, despite one actor having his ribs broken and cracking an elbow, this fight scene from The Godfather is still scrutinized over how fake it looks.
The fight scene comes after Sonny discovers that his sister is being beaten by his brother-in-law, Carlo. He tracks Carlo down and beats him on the sidewalk in broad daylight. The whole thing is captured in only a few takes, and some of the punches and kicks clearly aren’t hitting their target, or even coming close for that matter.
The irony of this is that actor Gianni Russo ended up with multiple broken bones after the fight scene was filmed. Actor James Caan allegedly didn’t enjoy Russo’s company on set, which may have also resulted in Caan being particularly hostile while filming. In fact, the part where Caan uses a trash can lid to bash against Russo’s head was even improvised.
So do you think these on-set mistakes ended up making the movie better? Let us know in the comments!
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