5 Intense Movie Scenes Created By Not Clueing In Actors
For a bunch of people who are supposed to play make-believe for a living, not a lot of actors feel up to faking it. That's why so many of them have genuinely crashed, bashed, strangled and emotionally scarred their ways to believable performances. Here's another round of Hollywood's finest actors working hard by hardly working.
Nobody Knew What They Were Getting Into For The Opera Scene In The Fifth Element
If there's one thing you remember from Luc Besson's colorful fever dream The Fifth Element, it's probably Milla Jovovich's nude scene. Or maybe Bruce Willis' awesome orange rubber tank top. Gary Oldman's ridiculous accent? Tricky's bizarre casting? Well, somewhere on that list is the opera scene. It's touching, a little sad, and surprisingly violent -- a perfect encapsulation of the film itself.
When it came time to cast Diva Plavalaguna, Besson knew exactly who to ask: his fiancee at the time, the actress, director, and writer Maiwenn. She said no, but when her replacement didn't show up on the day of shooting, she revised her answer to "Screw it."
For the scene, Besson had all the extras and several members of the cast sit in the audience at Covent Garden, but didn't show them the Diva until the cameras were rolling. All Bruce Willis and company knew was that they were going to see a performance, and that they had to clap at the end. Nobody told the entire cast to give a standing ovation.
According to Maiwenn, Besson loves to "impress" his actors, capturing their reactions when they briefly forget they're hamming it up on a movie set. You wouldn't expect a guy who makes movies about alien worlds and eccentric characters with bad dye jobs to be that into naturalism.
It's safe to say that none of the actors were expecting to see a freaky blue alien appear and sing an opera that morphs into a whack beatbox performance. Which probably explains why Willis starts applauding like a frightened caveman, while Chris Tucker's eyes silently reassess the nature of reality.
The Silence Of The Lambs Traumatized Most Of The Cast
The Silence Of The Lambs messed up its actors, though maybe not in the way you'd figure. It started with the opening scenes, in which Hannibal Lecter gets into Clarice Starling's head, insulting her clothes and her native West Virginian accent. To set the mood, Anthony Hopkins thought it would be a good idea to start mocking Jodie Foster about her own accent work. This struck a nerve, as director Jonathan Demme had already stated that he didn't think Foster would be convincing as a West Virginian. Foster's anger and insecurity found its way onto the screen, and she agreed afterward that it made the scene better. Afterward.
This also sparked an insufferable debate about his pronunciation of "Chianti."
Ted Levine (who played Buffalo Bill) and Brooke Smith (who put the lotion on the skin) got along during production, and would often hang out. However, becoming buddies made it harder for Levine to treat Smith the way Buffalo Bill does, which gave him an "icky" feeling. He forgot about the golden rule: Never name an animal you're going to slaughter, and never get coffee with someone whose skin you're going to turn into a suit.
During the infamous lotion scene, Smith decided to improvise a line -- she whimpered, "I wanna see my mommy." This broke Levine in half, and all the disgust, guilt, and anger we see is the actor wondering how he ever wound up getting paid to keep a woman stuck in a hole for ten shooting days.
Scott Glenn played FBI agent Jack Crawford, Starling's boss and the one chasing after Bill. Both Foster and Glenn spent time with real serial killer hunters when researching their roles, but Glenn went a step further. For days, he shadowed FBI profiler John Douglas, on whom his character was based. He learned a lot from Douglas. Too much, it turns out, as Glenn says he still has nightmares about the messed up things Douglas showed him, including a tape of two murderers torturing a teenage girl to death. That may explain why he chose not to be in any of the sequels. Or any of the documentaries. Or why he's been typecast as men who look like they've gazed into the abyss ever since.
The Ending Of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Gave Its Lead A Panic Attack
The 1978 version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is one of those rare remakes that blows the original out of the water. Not only is it considered a classic, but it also singlehandedly rewrote the rules of cinematic horror, giving its audience a twist ending that nobody saw coming. Not even the actor who was in that scene, apparently.
In the movie, the titular body snatchers appear completely human, except when they need to warn others that real humans are near, in which case they emit a horrifying shriek. At the end of the movie, our two heroes, played by Donald Sutherland and Veronica Cartwright, are split up and forced to blend in with the now almost-completely-body-snatched world. But when Cartwright finally sees Sutherland again and breaks character, he responds with that bone-shakingly horrid scream. Her eyes fill with fear as she realizes the aliens have snatched him too.
Now, Cartwright is a great actress, but she's not that great. Director Philip Kaufman knew her reaction was going to make or break that crucial scene, so instead of preparing her for it, he did the exact opposite. According to Cartwright, "Phil Kaufman didn't tell us one thing about that ending, he told us different things so I had not expected Donald to do that!" When Sutherland turns around, raises his hand, and starts screaming like a pod person, Cartwright claims, "that look of terror and upset is just what came out." Given how scary Sutherland is in that scene, she should be glad that was the only thing that came out.
Chris Pratt Hung Surprise Dong At Amy Poehler
Most actors aren't truly naked in nude scenes. 99.9 percent of the time, their co-stars are staring at flesh-colored underwear and modesty cups that hide the dangly bits. Most of the time.
In the sixth episode of Season 2 of Parks And Recreation, Amy Poehler was supposed to open the door to find Chris Pratt's character performing a slightly romantic (and very naked) gesture, at which point she would act surprised. She did not have to act.
That is Poehler genuinely flabbergasted at the sight of Pratt's penis.
According to the Pratt, he was getting frustrated because Poehler wasn't acting shocked enough at his unsheathed manhood. So Pratt figured, "hey, maybe I should actually be naked during the next take."
Poehler was so convincingly stunned that they used that take in the episode. However, not long after, Pratt received an angry letter from the studio ordering him to never, ever, be naked again (around his non-consenting coworkers; he was still allowed to take showers). They also told him he was never allowed to talk about the story or the reprimand, but seeing as you're reading this, you've probably deduced how well that one took.
The Lead In The Last House On The Left Really Thought She Was Going To Get Raped And Murdered
The odds were stacked against legendary horror filmmaker Wes Craven's debut movie, The Last House On The Left, a '70s exploitation flick in which two teenage girls are raped and killed by a gang of psychopaths. They had no budget, no permits, no time, and very inexperienced actors. But everyone involved was determined to make a great movie. How determined? Enough to convince the leading lady she might wind up murdered by these maniacs for real.
In a later documentary titled Celluloid Crime Of The Century, Craven and his crew recount how intense shooting was, and if you like watching a bunch of middle-aged white guys gleefully recall the day they made a 23-year-old girl genuinely believe she was going to get raped and murdered, you're in for a treat. You probably don't deserve one, though.
According to Craven himself, Sandra Peabody, who played one of the two teenage victims, was legitimately terrified throughout the whole shoot. She started getting suspicious when Craven, who didn't bother getting permits to shoot on his locations, would have the crew climb fences to get to set and hide every time they heard a car coming. Throw in a script that started more like hardcore torture porn than a horror movie, and Peabody had pretty good cause to start suspecting that maybe she'd been roped into a snuff film.
Her fears were only solidified by her two male co-stars, David Hess and Marc Sheffler, who both decided to "method act" being sadistic pieces of shit (which it seems came naturally to them). Hess would later brag about how he playfully threatened Peabody with actual rape. When asked about that scarring scene, he said, "I started to pull her pants down, and grab her tits and everything. And I looked up at Wes at one point and said, 'Can I?' And then she really freaked."
Peabody got so scared that Craven had to take her aside and convince her they weren't doing a porno. Which is hard when one of your actors is in fact a porn star (who later would say that this movie was the sleaziest thing he'd ever been in).
When Peabody and Sheffler had another scene, this time near a cliffside, Sheffler insisted that Peabody wasn't "getting it." So in order to properly motivate his co-star, he grabbed her, held her over the edge of the cliff, and told her, "If you don't get this fucking scene right now, I'm going to drop you. I'm gonna fucking drop you right now. Wes will shoot it and Vic will shoot and we'll have a different scene because you'll be fucking mangled. You better fucking get this." Sheffler then signaled to Craven, and they filmed the scene.
Because of this "method acting" / genuine abuse, Craven almost wasn't able to finish the movie. One day, toward the end of filming, he woke up to find that Peabody had made a break for it in the middle of the night. She had started to fear for her life. Eventually, they managed to catch up to her and convince her that they weren't going to kill her, because chasing someone down to tell them you're not going to viciously murder them is always a good play.
Aaron Short is a freelancer from Edinburgh who has also contributed to Listverse, WhatCulture, Watch Mojo, and Toptenz. You can see some of Aaron's other articles here, or click here to follow him on Twitter.
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