Film Scenes Where Cast Is Unaware Of Plot

Wow, strange coincidence: watching “100 Greatest Films” on E4+1 right now, they’re talking about Kes, and the former child actors were saying that in the scene where the headmaster is caning the children on their hands, the child actors were actually caned, without having been forewarned, and their expressions of surprise and hurt are genuine. Now that’s harsh.

According to the cast interviews on the DVD, they were given what they thought were full scripts, but they were actually one page short. When they thought they were done shooting, they were handed the last page and were then hustled onto the set and filmed that last bit more or less in a daze.

As I heard it, the scene had to be filmed twice because the crew didn’t know about the ending either and their gasps were picked up by the microphones.

Minor one, in “Pretty Woman” Richard Gere improvised the moment where he snaps the jewelry box lid on Julia Roberts’ fingers. Supposedly she was having trouble staying awake and focused. Here startled noises and giggles are genuine.

In the original filming of The Empire Strikes Back, the fellow who played Vader (his name escapes me, but I’m talking about the physical actor, not Jones’ voiceover) originally said “Luke, I killed your father,” not “Luke, I am your father.” The rest of the cast wasn’t let in on it until the final edit was completed. No cite, unfortunately, just something I read long ago. If I recall correctly, this was done because Vader’s true identity was such a crucial plot point that Lucas wanted to do everything in his power to avoid any sort of leaks.

That might be because Pickens was brought on late. (source - the Dr. Strangelove DVD.) Peter Sellers was supposed to play Major Kong also, but fell off the bomb and broke his leg early in filming. When Pickens showed up on the set, everyone thought it was very cool how he dressed in character, not knowing that he really dressed like that. An inspired bit of luck, I think.

I have a hard time believing this. First, I suspect there was a bunch of CGI involved. Second, this would imply no rehearsals on the set. Third, it would imply they got it in one take. Any decent actor can look surprised ten times in a row.

On the other hand, I heard the MASH story also. I think I heard an actor on a talk show saying that the doctors were told to ad lib, and that Gary Burghoff got handed the announcement at the last minute, without warning, so his shocked expression was genuine. I agree that it was a great way to handle it - though Mclean Stevenson was pissed about being killed off for good.

I have trouble believing that part about the carpetbag. It was an optical process shot.

This wording got beverage up my nose. I hope you’re happy.

I’ve always been skeptical of that one, mainly because of Slim’s ride down on the nuke, laughing and screaming all the way. You’d have to be pretty dim to not realize the inherent, nay ludicrous, humor in that situation.

IIRC, John Gulager did this to some effect in Feast. He purposefully left the actors uninformed of some of the FX. I think there is some footage somewhere either in Project Greenlight 3 or outakes where he discusses it. However, I’m not positive about the details.

Don’t know whether or not it’s historically accurate, but in the bio-pic of Peter Sellers, starring Geoffrey Rush as Sellers, Sellers and Kubrick had argued about Kong from early on.

Sellers felt like, if he were to do multiple characters, that three was a good number. He wanted to just do Mandrake, President Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove. He insisted that Kubrick find someone else to play Kong. Kubrick fought him on it, demanded that Sellers play all four roles he was contracted to do, insisting that Sellers would be in breach of contract otherwise.

Sellers gave in to Kubrick, or so he allowed Kubrick to believe. Then, when all the scenes for the other three characters had been shot, on the first day of shooting for the King character, Sellers showed up to the set with his leg in a cast claiming to have had an “accident”. Still agreed to do the role, so as to avoid a breach of contract, but since he couldn’t do the role with his leg in a cast, Kubrick had to bring someone else in.

Again, I don’t know if it’s historically accurate, but this is how it was depicted in the film.

Sort of, it’s on the docu-thingy in the DVD box set. David Prowse (in the Darth Vader suit) spoke the “I killed your father” line on set, as he spoke all DV’s lines. James Earl Jones knew (well, he kinda had to) but thought Vader was lying; Lucas took Mark Hamill to one side beforehand and said basically “You’re not reacting to killing your father, he is your father, react to that”. So of the case only those two knew about it.

I also remember hearing that in Alien Resurrection, although Sigourney Weaver knew the scene was coming, she had not actually seen the 7 previous Ripley abortive alien-thingees, and her reaction was an honest one at how much some of them resembled her. Does anyone else remember that?

The big coming-out scene in **Alien ** was indeed a surprise to the cast apart from John Hurt. One of them said in the “making of” feature that they had a bad feeling when they showed up and all the crew were wearing raincoats.

I forget the name of the film, but John Singletary’s flick set in South Central L.A. had a cast surprise. John did not tell the actors that their scene was to be interrupted by an automatic weapon. Their startled reactions were genuine.

I thought so, too.

But that’s what it said on the making of “Mary Poppins” DVD featurette. I’m not really sure what to believe.

I read in a biography of Laurel and Hardy that Stan Laurel truly enjoyed directing some of the films, but that Oliver Hardy had no interest beyond getting the shooting done early enough so he could enjoy a few holes of golf at the local club.

Laurel took advantage of this and scheduled the scenes so those in which Hardy was acting irritated or angry were always shot late in the afternoon, slowly, with as many retakes as possible. Hardy, anxious to get a few rounds in before dusk, would become sincerely annoyed and short-tempered, just as Laurel wanted.

Hardy knew he was being used, but there wasn’t much he could do about it.

I find this story difficult to believe. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the scene, but as I recall it Hurt is laying on the bed and the apparatus/puppeteer that runs the Alien is inside the gurney. All in all, this must have taken quite a bit of time to get staged and any actors in the room must have been able to see that it wasn’t just Hurt laying there.

It makes for a interesting story, and it could be possible that the actors hadn’t seen any dress rehearsals prior to that first scene, but they’d have to be pretty daft to be totally caught by surprise at what happened. The blood and actual appearance of the puppet may have been new, but they wouldn’t have had the same shock that the audience had at the entire display.

I saw an interview with Ron Howard around the release of Far and Away. There was a scene in which Tom Cruise is unconscious and naked, with something covering his privates (I think it was a chamber pot, but may have been a hat or something like that). Nicole Kidman is supposed to sneak a peak under that item.

Ron said that they did a couple of takes with a washcloth protecting Tom’s dignity, under the pot. Then Ron told Tom to do it without the cloth, and not tell Nicole. Her genuine expression from that take was the one used in the film.

All the actors (except for one) in Werner Herzog’s Heart of Glass were purportedly under hypnosis during the filming of the movie. I know it doesn’t count, but I thought I’d throw that in as a related curiosity.

I’m not saying you have to believe it, and I’m not sure how much of it I believe myself- I merely note that Burt Reynolds has been telling such stories for years. One such account is here.

If this is true, Bill McKinney was nutso and John Boorman let him go way over the top to get the scene the way he wanted it.

In fairness, McKinney denies it completely. But I have a friend who met McKinney on the set of “Ned Blessing,” and she says McKinney STILL got a kick out of reenacting the rape scene to break up his cast-mates during the long stretches of down time on TV and movie sets.