In Almost Famous, William asking Penny to ask him to come to Morocco with her again was actually Patrick Fugit asking Kate Hudson to give him the line again because he wanted to say his line again, only more excited. However, this take — where he becomes more excited after the second time she asks the question — was so sweet that it made it to the final cut.
According to the commentary for American Beauty, the remote control car hitting Carolyn was a complete accident — but it was so perfect it ended up in the film.
The sound of lightsabers in Star Wars was actually created through a happy accident. When trying to come up with how they’d sound, sound designer Ben Burtt walked by his TV with a tape recorder with a broken mic cable, and it picked up the sound and amplified it, creating a buzzing noise Burtt used in the film.
Terry wasn’t meant to crash his scooter in American Graffiti — that was a funny accident that made it into the film.
Alvy’s sneeze — sending his friend’s expensive cocaine into a cloud — in Annie Hall was unscripted and accidental. Ruining his friend’s coke was so in-character for Alvy and funny that it stayed in the film.
Another funny scene that wasn’t meant to happen was Joel throwing the arrow on the ground in Addams Family Values. The actor, David Krumholtz, couldn’t get the arrow on the bow. “So, in real-life frustration, that’s me throwing it down and walking out,” Krumholtz said. “I was super angry at myself. Then, after they cut, they all started laughing, and they were like, ‘That was hilarious!’ I was like, ‘Oh! OK!'”
And the laughing in the lineup scene wasn’t supposed to happen either — it was meant to be serious. “We were supposed to be very stoic, very unimpressed, unintimidated,” Kevin Pollak, who played Hockney, said. But “we would lose it over and over and over.” Pollak also claimed in the DVD commentary that part of the reason they laughed was that Benicio del Toro “farted like 12 takes in a row,” which created one of the most memorable scenes in the film.
The Children of Men scene when blood splatters on the camera was a complete accident — it happened on their last chance to film the six-minute continuous scene. Director Alfonso Cuarón yelled “cut” when the blood splattered onto the camera, but the assistant director didn’t hear him because an explosion went off at the same time. They continued with the shot, which the cinematographer called a “miracle.”
This Pearl Harbor scene from Tora! Tora! Tora! featuring people running from an exploding plane that happened by accident. This wasn’t supposed to happen, and the stunt people running from the flames were really running for their lives. The footage was that much more terrifying because it was real. “Shrapnel was flying everywhere,” stunt person Phil Adams said, describing what it was like to film the sequence. “It was probably some of the best footage that we shot that day.”
Timothy Dalton accidentally looked at the camera in this Hot Fuzz scene — according to the DVD commentary, the moment was kept in and accompanied with a “ka-ching” to make it seem intentional and meta.
The elephant next to Ewan McGregor’s character in Big Fish was not meant to poop during the circus scene where he’s cleaning their enclosure – however, it worked perfectly to comedically contrast Edward’s mood. “How amazing was that moment when the elephant craps on screen? We’d shot the wide shot where you see the two elephant’s bums and then me. We’d shot that and we’d moved in to do a close-up. … As we were setting that up, it lifted its tail and we all went, ‘Quick!’ and they widened the camera out, I got ready, and there was no turnover. They just turned the camera on and I played the scene as it dumped next to me. Genius,” McGregor said of the scene.
Actor Patrick Scott Lewis in Zodiac actually had indigestion during one scene – him holding his stomach was kept in as director David Fincher thought it made his fear seem more realistic. “I just thought, that seemed so real that somebody would actually kinda [have] a moment of indigestion when they see a guy in a black hood and a .45 automatic,” Fincher said in the commentary.
And finally, Lenny Montana was so terrified to act alongside Marlon Brando that he tripped up on his lines in the scene where his character Luca Brasi greets Don Corleone. Coppola saw this and decided to make his anxiety a part of his character, adding in an additional scene in which Brasi practices greeting Don Corleone. This made Brasi far more layered and memorable.
What movie moments, lines, or aspects do you love that were complete accidents? Let us know in the comments below!