Film Trivia

15 Movies That Took the Actors in Them by Surprise  

Ann Casano
29.3k views 15 items

List Rules List includes movies where actors were genuinely surprised by an element of the film - the script, special effects, a prop

Films cost a lot of money to make. With the possible exception of the comedy, most films tend to stick to the script in order to finish production on time. But sometimes a director or an actor doesn’t adhere strictly to the script. For a variety of reasons, they go rogue. Here are 15 movies where actors were surprised.

Most of the time these surprises are a direct result of a director simply wanting to get an honest reaction. Sometimes the best acting is not acting at all but reacting to something that is totally unexpected. For example, Ridley Scott wanted his actors to be truly terrified when an alien suddenly burst out of John Hurt’s chest in the sci-fi movie Alien. Scott did not tell any of the actors except Hurt about his master plan, so the fear and shock we see on their faces in the film is totally authentic.

Unfortunately, Veronica Cartwright was so shocked by the alien that she fainted. There are a few items on this list that feature a director going way over the line in the name of art. Tippi Hedren had to go to the hospital during the filming of The Birds because Hitchcock suddenly decided to use real birds instead of mechanical ones. Three extras died during the filming of Noah’s Ark when director Michael Curtiz failed to tell the actors that gallons of water were going to be poured on them during the film’s climatic flood scene.

Most of the time, the surprise works for the benefit of the film and nobody gets hurt. Check out these actors who were surprised by movies and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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What was surprising to the three actors in The Blair Witch Project? How about everything? The actors were simply given a video camera and a 35-page outline to take out into the woods for eight days. The directors would visit the actors every day to tell them the general direction of the movie. They would also leave notes for each individual actor telling them to get into a fight with another actor or how to generally behave on that particular day. If the actors appear lost, scared, cold, and a bit crazed, that's not acting, that's really how they felt.

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Cannibal, psychopath, refined gentleman -  Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is telling green FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) all about the time he ate the liver of a census-taker with "some fava beans and a nice Chianti." The scene is revolting and scary enough, but then Lecter finishes his story with a menacing hiss.

Turns out that Hopkins added the disturbing and now trademark hiss during the rehearsal for the scene with the intention of scaring Foster. Director Jonathan Demme liked the unexpected added touch and opted to leave it in the film.

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A lot of disturbing things happen to the children who tour Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. So it's probably a good thing that not a single one of the kids knew what was going to happen to them throughout the film. Keeping the sets a secret was especially important during the Chocolate Room scene. The child actors were seeing the sugary sweets of the chocolate river and giant gummy bears for the first time while filming. Their awe and delight are 100% genuine.

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There are a lot of punches thrown in David Fincher's bare-knuckle Fight Club. However, one of the punches went a bit off-script. During the scene when Tyler (Brad Pitt) tells the Narrator (Ed Norton) to punch him as hard as he can, Pitt is expecting a pulled punch to the gut. However, Fincher told Norton before the scene to hit Pitt in the head with a real punch. Norton winds up hitting Pitt in the ear. Somehow, Pitt doesn't break character and even responds, "Why the ear, man?"

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