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18 Times Directors Didn’t Tell Actors Things So They Would Have Authentic Reactions

If I saw an alien burst out of someone's chest without warning, I would faint too.

Most of the stuff we see from actors in movies is, obviously, acting. But sometimes it's their actual genuine reactions to things they didn't know were going to happen.


1. Like in Rocky Horror Picture Show, when the actors weren't told there was a body underneath the table.

In the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), when a corpse is revealed under the dining table, the actors were genuinely shocked. None of them knew that the body was there – with one exception, Tim Curry, because he was the one who had to whip the tablecloth off. from MovieDetails

2. Alan Rickman was dropped early in his character's death fall in Die Hard.

In Die Hard (1988), when filming Gruber’s death scene, Rickman was told he would be dropped on the count of three. The director counted to two before dropping him, making his reaction genuine. from MovieDetails

*Correction: The stuntmen let him go after one, not two.

3. In The Goonies, Josh Brolin actually ruined the take with his authentic reaction to the pirate ship by swearing.

In The Goonies (1985) The cast was not allowed to see the pirate ship before the scene was shot, Director Richard Donner wanted to catch their genuine reactions at the size and scope of it. When they did see it, Josh Brolin was so surprised that he exclaimed "Holy shit!" The scene had to be re-shot. from MovieDetails

4. The child actors really were seeing the inside of the chocolate factory for the first time in this Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory scene.

In Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), when the kids first see the chocolate room, their reactions are genuine. Director Mel Stuart took great care to ensure that none of the child actors saw the gigantic set as it was being built. from MovieDetails

5. And the same thing was done with Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes (who played Lucy and Edmund, respectively) in The Chronicles of Narnia.

In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), when Lucy first enters Narnia, her reaction is genuine. The director purposefully never showed her actress the set. He also did the same with Edmund's actor. from MovieDetails

6. The cast's reactions to the chestburster scene in Alien were genuine, as they didn't know what was going to come out of Kane's chest. This actually caused actor Veronica Cartwright to faint.

For the Chestburster scene in Alien (1979) the effects used to achieve the scene were deliberately kept secret from the actors who's reactions of surprise and shock were completely genuine from MovieDetails

7. Jon Favreau controlled the jack-in-the-boxes from offscreen in this Elf scene so that Ferrell's surprise would be genuine.

Will Ferrell's reactions during the jack-in-the-box scene were genuine. The director surprised him every time by triggering the toys with a remote control. from MovieDetails

8. The actors' reactions to gunfire in Boyz N the Hood were real, as they didn't know there'd be real gunfire.

In Boyz N the Hood (1991), the actors' reactions to the gunfire are authentic. Ice Cube confirmed Director John Singleton never told any of the actors that real gunfire would be used for this scene (Ice Cube tweet in comments) from MovieDetails

9. In Monty Python's Life of Brian, the extras playing soldiers were told not to laugh, so their stifled laughter is genuine.

In Monty python's life of Brian the soldier's reaction during the famous biggus dickus scene is completely genuine. He was an extra who had been told simply not to laugh and had no idea what was about to happen. from MovieDetails

10. Allen Danziger's scream when he first sees Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre is real — it was the first time he'd seen Leatherface.

In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) Director Tobe Hooper kept Gunnar Hansen's (the actor who plays Leatherface) costume and mask a secret from the cast. Allen Danziger's scream when he first sees the brutal killer is real & genuine. from MovieDetails

11. According to DVD commentary, in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the cast thought it would be Zoe Saldana's character Anamaria walking down the stairs, so their surprise at seeing Barbossa was genuine.

At the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), when a certain character returns from the dead, the cast shows genuine surprise. The character's return had been kept a secret by the writers- they even went uncredited. from MovieDetails

12. At the end of The Graduate, director Mike Nichols just kept the camera rolling without telling the actors beforehand.

In The Graduate (1967) final scene, the director got the actors expression for the scene by just not telling them when he was going to cut. There was nothing in the script that would imply their facial expressions changing, he just had the camera running to feel their energy naturally dissipate. from MovieDetails

13. John C. McGinley's shock at the "Sloth" victim being alive was real in Se7en.

In Se7en [1996], Fincher never told John C. McGinley that the corpse used for 'Sloth' was actually a living actor in heavy makeup. McGinley's character's initial shock when 'Sloth' wakes in the movie was in fact McGinley's genuine surprise from the first take. from MovieDetails

14. In Super Troopers, Kevin Heffernan's real-life parents were used in the traffic stop scene, and they had no idea he was going to curse.

In Super Troopers (2001), the couple who Farva (Kevin Heffernan) calls “chicken-fucker” and squawks at during a traffic stop were played by Heffernan’s real-life parents. Their reactions during the scene are genuine as they had no idea what he was going to say prior to it being filmed. from MovieDetails

15. Tricky wasn't told how big the explosion in The Fifth Element would be — it ended up being so big that it melted part of Gary Oldman's costume.

Tricky, Zorg's Henchman in The Fifth Element, was genuinely scared by the warehouse explosion because Luce Besson and Gary Oldman didn't mention to him how big the explosion really will be during the shoot. The heat of said explosion also melted part of Gary Oldmans costume. from MovieDetails

16. The other actors in Scream weren't allowed to meet the actor playing Ghostface — however, Barrymore really was speaking to him on the phone.

In Scream (1996) Drew Barrymore and Neve Campbell did not meet Roger Jackson, the actor who played The Voice. Whenever they are talking on the phone to the killer, they are actually talking to him. Craven thought that it would be better to bring out the shock reactions when they heard his voice. from MovieDetails

17. Steven Speilberg used toys and crew members in scary costumes to get genuine reactions from the 3-year-old Cary Guffey in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

In ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ (1977), Steven Spielberg used a series of gifts & surprises in order to get the reactions he wanted from actor Cary Guffey. These included: Toys & crew members dressed like gorillas & Clowns. from MovieDetails

18. And finally, according to DVD commentary, Harrison Ford didn't know what questions would be asked in the interrogation scene in The Fugitive so that his frustration and responses would be real.

In The Fugitive [1993], Harrison Ford (playing the framed Dr. Kimble) was not provided a script for the interrogation scene. His answers and mounting frustration with the detectives were improvised in order to seem more genuine. from MovieDetails
Harrison Ford angrily pointing
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