So that explains her very real look of revulsion
January 11, 2013 11:40 AM   Subscribe

This about Django Unchained so I will put the question inside to avoid spoilers.

I've read that the scene with the bloody hand was all real, that Leonardo DiCaprio had cut his hand on a prop when slamming his hand down on the table and then just went with it.

And that the part where he smears his bloody hand on Kerry Washington's face was not in the script and that the whole thing was just one big take.

A coworker told me that in Alien, no one but John Hurt knew that the alien would come busting out of his chest, so the reactions of the other actors were all pretty real. But I think that is kinda different than the Django incident in that John Hurt was in on it.

Is there a term for this sort of thing? Googling gets me stuff about "things that happen in movies but not in real life" but I guess I'm looking for when acting goes beyond acting and accidentally becomes reality.

I thought it would be cinema veritie but apparently that is something else. And I feel "ad lib" does not quite capture what's going on here.
posted by sio42 to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Improvisation? It's kind of reality but it's being improvised upon, to support the story.
posted by carter at 11:48 AM on January 11, 2013

Great question! I was wondering it too after hearing about that Django scene. But since you too are wondering, I googled "real reactions in movies" and found this funny list.
posted by xicana63 at 11:48 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not breaking character?
posted by Atticus Swanson at 11:49 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Googling "unscripted scenes" was a better search result.
posted by xicana63 at 11:52 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't know what it is called, or even if there is a name for it, but the final scene of The Graduate is an interesting example--they sit together in the back of the bus, and smile and kiss, but then their faces just sort of go blank and uncertain.

Apparently Mike Nichols, the director, liked to leave the camera rolling after or in between scenes, just to capture this sort of natural reaction or facial expression.
posted by flug at 11:56 AM on January 11, 2013

This scene in Roman Holiday - Audrey Hepburn had no idea of what Gregory Peck was going to do, her reaction is genuine.

They see the sights, including the "Mouth of Truth", a face carved in marble which is said to bite off the hands of liars. When Joe pulls his hand out of the mouth, it appears to be missing, causing Anya to scream. He then pops his hand out of his sleeve and laughs. (Hepburn's shriek was not acting—Peck decided to pull a gag he had once seen Red Skelton do, and did not tell his co-star beforehand.)
posted by humph at 11:57 AM on January 11, 2013

maybe "not breaking character" and "unscripted scene" is just what it's called.
it's not so much the reactions of the other actors but that something physically unexpected to Leo and he just kept going, as did everyone else. it was just incorporated.

it wasn't premeditated like in Aliens or Roman Holiday and wasn't The Graduate type thing where nothing external happened, they just were at the end of the scene and the movie.
posted by sio42 at 12:02 PM on January 11, 2013

I suppose it could be considered "not wasting film", back when movies used film and it was super expensive. How about "just rolling with it", or a "real reaction" that wound up working out?

Like when Viggo Mortenson kicked the Uruk Hai head at the beginning of the Two Towers and broke his toe. His shout of agony is real. Or when Richard Gere snapped shut the jewelry case in Pretty Woman and startled Julia Roberts and made her laugh? These are probably best described as a "real reaction", which just happened to work well with the story and made it into the movie. There are probably a thousand times more "real reactions" that wind up on the cutting room floor, or the blooper reel.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:09 PM on January 11, 2013

TVTropes calls this Throw It In.

(TVTropes also makes the same distinction you do; your Alien example would be what it calls Enforced Method Acting instead.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:10 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

It makes me think of "Throw it in" from, but there is likely a more-official term for it.
posted by CancerMan at 12:12 PM on January 11, 2013

In one of the opening scenes of Apocalypse Now, Martin Sheen was actually drunk and cut his hand badly while faking karate moves in front of a mirror. Coppola went with it.
posted by readery at 12:16 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's a specific film term for it, but "serendipity" or "luck" would be good general terms for what happens....

(I was also going to link the TV Tropes page but y'all are too fast.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:19 PM on January 11, 2013

Speaking of TVTropes, there is also an element of "The Show Must Go On" in your example--particularly look at at the examples on the TVTropes page under "Real Life". The general idea is that whatever happens during a performance you just roll with it and incorporate it into the performance.
posted by flug at 12:34 PM on January 11, 2013

In this way, Al Jolson, to alleviate the excruciating pain of an infected in-grown toenail, decided to drop to his knees one night for the conclusion of "My Mammy," thus inadvertently creating his signature gesture.
posted by ubiquity at 12:34 PM on January 11, 2013

Previously, related.
posted by purpleclover at 12:40 PM on January 11, 2013

It is improvising (Django).
posted by heyjude at 1:19 PM on January 11, 2013

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