Unscripted Movie Ad Libs That Became Iconic - Part 4

Posted on 24 Jul 00:00

Some of the most classic movies we watch online or play using DVD players became popular because of their ad-libbed lines. Ad-libs refer to moments in a film when an actor or an actress utters words that were not initially included in the movie script. Sometimes, characters make sounds outside the screenplay, and these are included in the film. Consequently, these improvised lines have become a vital part of movies. In fact, ad-libs will continue existing as long as the films are being released. This article shares a list of movies that became popular partially because of their unscripted ad-libs.

1.  Dazed and Confused (1993)

Matthew McConaughey’s ad-libbed line “Alright, alright, alright," conjures everyone’s attention to the 1993 American coming-of-age comedy called Dazed and Confused. The movie’s plot centers on Texas teens in their last day of school. The title is attributed to James Holme’s 'Dazed and Confused' song. It is 28th May 1976 at Lee High School. The school's seniors are preparing for the yearly hazing of the school's incoming freshmen. The incoming freshman girls are also hazed and are forced to propose to the senior boys. Mitch, a freshman, escapes Carl's hazing but is cornered by O'Bannion who punishes him. Pink finds the injured Mitch and gives him a ride home. Pink, Mitch, and Kevin head for the Emporium later in the night where there are many students. Mitch and his middle-school friends dump paints on O’Bannon as revenge for what he did to Mitch. Pink and his friends smoke marijuana and a policeman calls his coach. The coach advises him to sign a pledge against drugs which he takes a stand and declines. 

Director; Richard Linklater directed and produced the movie from a script he co-wrote with Sean Daniels and James Jack.

Main cast; Jason London (Pink), Wiley Wiggins (Mitch), and Ben Affleck (O'Bannion), Matthew McConaughey 

Awards; Dazed and Confused has not received any special awards, but leaves a great legacy behind.

2.  Anchorman (2004)

Will Ferrell’s "I'm in a glass case of emotion" ad-libbed line and the comedy, Anchorman comes to mind. Will Ferrell (Ron Burgundy) is an anchorman at one of the TV stations in San Diego. Christina Applegate (Veronica Corningstone) is also employed at the station and Ron coaxes her into a relationship. Ron is late for work, and Veronica fills for him on-air, raising  her ratings higher than Ron's. They break up because of this, and Veronica gets promoted to disgust of the entire team. Ron gets into a heated argument resulting in a fight with Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaugh), his main competitor, and his news team but the police arrive and the fight breaks up. Having Veronica as a co-anchor causes obvious on and off air between her and Ron.  After three months, events take different turns, and Ron and Veronica reconcile. The film ends by showing the two as co-anchors for CNN.

Director; Adam McKay and Will Ferrell wrote the script that he also directed.  Judd Apatow produced the film.

Main cast; Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Fred Willard, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner, Vince Vaugh.

Awards; None.

Grossing; with a budget of $26 million, the movie made $28.4 million on the weekend it was opened and $90.6 from the entire theatrical release.

3.  The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Harrison Ford’s ad-lib:  "I know," after Princess Leia professes that she loves him, attention shifts to the epic space sci-fi  film, 'The Empire Strikes Back'. Luke, Leia, and Vader belong to a rebel alliance that is seeking a new base after their Death Star, a fictional station is destroyed. Pilot, Luke, succumbs to hyperthermia but Han Solo discovers him and keeps him alive until the following morning when the rescue team comes for them. Han and Leia get romantic.  Luke travels to Dagobah, where he meets Yoda. Yoda trains Luke who  learns a lot about his powers . Using these powers, Luke senses a foreboding of Leia and Han being in danger and he leaves against Yoda and Obi-Wan’s wish to rescue them.  The team faces many trials and tribulations but eventually reunite.

Director; Irvin Kershner directed the movie and Gary Kurtz produced it from a script authored by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan,

Main cast; Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa), and David Prowse (Darth Vader), Harrison Ford (Hans Solo).

Awards; The Empire Strikes Back ranked second in the highest-grossing sequels of all time and thirteenth in highest-grossing films of all time in North America. The United States Library of Congress selected the movie for preservation in the National Film registry after considering it culturally and aesthetically significant.

Grossing; the film was initially set on a budget of $18 million but following the death of writer Leigh Brackett, fines, fire, and characters injuries the budget skyrocketed to $33 million by the time the production completed. It has grossed up to $550.9 million.

4.  Blade Runner (1982)

Rutger Hauer’s ad-libbed line, "Like tears in rain." instantly recalls the movie, "Blade Runner". This science fiction film is loosely based on its adaptation of Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ The movie centers on a dystopian Los Angeles of 2019 that bioengineers synthetic humans to work in space colonies. Four replicants leave the colony illegally for earth.  Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a "blade runner" whose job it is to track down bioengineered humanoids known as replicants and terminally "retire" them is brought in to capture the escapees. Rachel is a replicant who believes she's a human because of the false memories injected into her to create an emotional cushion. Rachel stops Leon, an escapee, from killing Deckard and uses Deckard’s gun to kill Leon. The following events lead to Tyrell, Sebastian, Roy, Pris, and other replicants’ death. Only Deckard and Rachel survive.

Director; Hampton Fancher and David Peoples wrote the script that Ridley Scott used to direct the film.

Main cast;  Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, and Rutger Hauer.

Awards; It won the Best Achievement Award, Best Dramatic Presentation, and Best DVD Special Edition Release award.

5)  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Ralph Fiennes’ ad-libbed line, "Well, I must say I'd hoped for better." shifts attention to the movie, 'Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2'.The 2011 fantasy film is adapted from J. K. Rowling's 2007 novel entitled 'Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows'. With the help of goblin Griphook, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry Potter breaks into Bellatrix Lestrange's,(A Death Eater and Sirius Black's cousin and murderer, vault to find Horcrux (a receptacle prepared by dark magic in which a Dark wizard has intentionally hidden a fragment of his soul for the purpose of attaining immortality). They retrieve it together with another one which is a cup and realize that there is yet another one at Hogwarts. Harry has several revelations in a vision after meeting Severus Snape, an exceptionally skilled wizard whose sarcastic, controlled exterior conceals deep emotions and anguish. A Professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, who Nagini, Voldemort's (the main antagonist in the series) pet snake kills. Many events take place, but Harry survives them all using his supernatural powers.

Director; the screenplay was written by Steve Kleves. David Heyman, David Barron, and J. K.Rowling produced the film which David Yates directed.

Main cast; Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter),Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and  major cast of A-list actors.

Awards; It won several awards, Best Film, Best Makeup, Best Art Direction for a Fantasy film, and Best Visual Effect awards.    

Grossing; at its release in 2011, the film grossed and was ranked third in the list of highest-grossing films at that time. When the year ended, it had grossed $1.3 billion and was the highest-grossing movie in 2011.

6.  Terminator 2:  Judgment Day (1991)

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ad-lib:  "I need a vacation," automatically diverts attention to the 1991 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day film. John Connor is being prepared his mother to become a resistance leader for America's artificial intelligence Skynet that is designed to initiate a nuclear holocaust on August 29th, 1997, which is thereafter named 'Judgement day.' The mother (Sarah Connor) is sick in the hospital. T-1000, an advanced prototype made of liquid metal, is sent to kill young John who sends a Terminator (M-101, Arnold Schwarzenegger) to protect John (himself) from the future. The Terminator and John help Sarah escape from the hospital. They learn about Skynet's history. Sarah goes to Miles Bennett Dyson's (a Cyberdyne Systems engineer working on a revolutionary new microprocessor that will form the basis for Skynet), apartment and wounds him but doesn't manage to kill him. T-1000 and M-101 fight and T-1000 is destroyed. John and his mother are relieved at the end of the whole Judgement Day plan. Terminator hugs a tearful John and leaves.

Director; together with William Wisher, James Cameron co-wrote a script from which he produced and directed the Terminator 2:  Judgment Day (1991) film.

Main cast;  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Patrick, and Linda Hamilton.

Awards; the film had a budget of $94-102 million, making it the most expensive movie ever made. Upon its release, it grossed $520 million and became the highest-grossing film in 1991. It won the following awards,Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Makeup Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects Academy Awards.

7.  A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Malcolm McDowell's improvised line, “I'm singing in the rain,"  attention shifts to the 1971 dystopian crime film , 'A Clockwork Orange'. The movie was adapted by Stanley Kubrick from Anthony Burgess' novel that had the same title and was published in 1962. Alex (Malcolm McDowell) leads a 'droogs’ gang that has four members, himself and Georgie, Dim, and Pete. The gang fights with a rival gang and later accesses a wrter's (Frank Alexander) house where they beat him and Alex rapes his wife. The gang goes to a cat lady's house to bludgeon her. Alex is arrested in the process and sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment. Alex takes up an offer to be a test object for aversion therapy's experiment but is nauseated by the violent and sex films, making him beg for an end to the treatment. A vagrant who Alex attacked tries to kill him after his release but is saved by Dim and Georgie who are now policemen. The film ends with the Minister apologizing to Alex and giving him a job and a stereo system. But, is Alex really cured?

Director; the script-writing, direction, and production of the movie was done by Stanley Kubrick.

Main cast; Malcolm McDowell (Alex), James Marcus (Georgie), Michael Tarn (Pete), and Warren Clarke (Dim).

Awards; It was nominated for four awards at the 44th Academy Awards. It won Best Film, Best Foreign Director, Best Director, and Best Dramatic Presentation by Hugo Awards.

Critics; the film had two theatrical releases, one in New York City (1971) and UK (1972). Following its graphic depiction of violence, Britain withdrew it and some other countries also banned it.


Movie ad-libs have become an essential part of films. These moments when a character utters words outside the script have become so popular that their mention instantly conjures attention to the films in which they were uttered. This article discussed some seven movies that become classic courtesy of their iconic ad-libs.

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