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Films — Animated
- In the original drafts for Frozen, Elsa was supposed to be a straight-up villain, and "Let It Go" would have been her Villain Song. But Idina Menzel brought such yearning vulnerability to the song that the producers made her a fundamentally good but misunderstood character instead.
- Anna's catchphrase "Wait, what?", was instered by her voice actor Kristen Bell, after she pushed for Anna to be more goofy and adorkable.
- Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective was originally designed to be thin and frail, but the animators were so impressed by Vincent Price's hammy performance, that they changed Ratigan's design to match it.
- Sherri Stoner served as live action reference for both Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. She has the tendency of getting her hair out of her face which translated into Ariel's bang blowing and in the way Belle always push a hairlock away from her eyes. Also, Ariel's lip biting.
Films — Live-Action
- After getting the role of Mr Magorium in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Dustin Hoffman gave the character a speech impediment, because why not, he's already good-crazy.
- Pirates of the Caribbean - Jack Sparrow's way of talking and behaving was basically Johnny Depp adding to a character that was far more low-brow in concept.
- During the open casting call for The Last Airbender, creator M. Night Shyamalan received a video of Noah Ringer doing performance martial arts. He never originally thought about casting Ringer (saying that he thought "wow, that's cool", but didn't originally intend to have so much of it in, or not quite so awesome), but then called him in for some acting auditions and screen tests to see if he could double anyway, and was apparently so impressed by the boy, who does look a lot like Aang as well, that he was hired.
- In Blade Runner the 'Tears In The Rain' monologue was written by the actor, Rutger Hauer, when he didn't like the original lines. Notably, the modifications included the "like tears in the rain" addition at the end.
- In Full Metal Jacket, R. Lee Ermey turned Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from a stern but understanding officer (read:unmemorable character) into the trash-talking debasing Drill Sergeant Nasty that has now become iconic.
- Apparently Robert Downey, Jr. kept hiding/eating snacks on the set during certain scenes of The Avengers (2012), so eventually it was incorporated into the film; "Blueberry?"
- Harrison Ford figured Han Solo not to be a guy who would say "I love you" back to Leia before being frozen in carbonite in The Empire Strikes Back, so after much heated discussion with George Lucas, he was allowed to change it to the now-iconic "I know", a line more befitting of the Lovable Rogue.
- In Star Wars, the famous violet Lightsaber used by Mace Windu in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith was the suggestion of his actor, Samuel L. Jackson. Supposedly, he wanted to be able to spot himself easily in large fight scenes.
- Pitch Perfect: Beca's singing "When I'm Gone" as her audition piece was because Anna Kendrick already knew that song, having seen it on a Viral video and spent an afternoon learning it.
- It was Ester Dean's idea to have Alexis Knapp join her in a duet of S&M.
- The Addams Family: It was Christina Ricci's idea to have Wednesday Addams fold her arms on her chest like a corpse being laid out for a funeral when Wednesday was being tucked into bed. Ricci was about 10 at the time.
- In Rocket Science Ginny's comment "I upped your game, little man" was inserted into the script by Blitz from a journal which he asked Anna Kendrick to write in character.
- In the Harry Potter movies, Lucius Malfoy's snake walking stick (with his wand in it) was a suggestion by Jason Isaacs.
- In the same series, several of Luna's accessories, most notably her radish earrings, were actually made by her actress Evanna Lynch on her own initiative, and the directors liked them so much they let her include them.
- In the film of Carrie the red baseball cap Norma wears was brought in by PJ Soles. She was initially only cast for two weeks, but Brian De Palma liked her Throw It In of hitting Sissy Spacek with the caps during one scene and her role was greatly expanded.
- Mandy Moore cut her hair short for the film How To Deal because she felt it fit her character. Producers were not happy but they decided on a compromise - Moore would wear hair extensions for the first part of the film and then the character would get an Important Haircut.
- Hannah Spearritt found some red hair dye just before she was to go to Barcelona to film the S Club 7 movie. She coloured the ends of her hair and the director liked it, so he had her keep it in for the film.
- The title character's memorable Establishing Character Moment in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, in which he feigns a limp and leans on a cane before executing a perfect somersault, was Gene Wilder's idea.
- Because The Family was written by a Frenchman (Luc Besson) but the dialogue was modern Americans and Italians interacting the main cast (consisting of Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, Tommy Lee Jones, and John D'Leo) were asked by Besson to advise him on how the general sentiment would actually be said. D'Leo said somewhat jokingly in an interview that because of it he felt cheated out of a writing credit.
- The character of Number Six in I Am Number Four has a South Australian accent because Teresa Palmer is from Adelaide and wanted to use her natural dialect.
- When Johnny Depp was cast as the Big Bad Wolf in Into the Woods, he suggested that the character be designed like the wolf in Tex Avery's "Red Hot Riding Hood".
- In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the final interaction between Kirk and Spock was written, word for word, by William Shatner, even down to the blocking of the scene and having them be physically seperated at the moment of Spock's death.
- Samuel L. Jackson accidentally lapsed into his long-lost lisp during a reading of Kingsman: The Secret Service. Matthew Vaughn told him to keep it, given the speech impediment fit the scars and such of James Bond villains.
- When she was cast to play Rita in Groundhog Day, Andie MacDowell asked the director if she could play the part using her natural South Carolina accent.
- Theo James opted not to bulk up too much for Divergent, feeling a slender and athletic build was more suited for Four.
- Sarah Clarke auditioned for and was cast as Nina just one day before filming began and the wardrobe department didn't have time to give her a fitting, so she ended up wearing what she wore to the audition as her costume. Due to the premise of the show occuring over the course of one day in real time, she wore her own outfit for the rest of the season. Differs from Throw It In in that it was at Clarke's suggestion.
- Tony Almeida's everpresent Chicago Cubs mug reflects the fact that actor Carlos Bernard is a huge fan.
- In Star Trek: The Original Series, Leonard Nimoy came up with the Vulcan Nerve Pinchnote , the Vulcan salute, and the "Live long and Prosper" salutation.
- The nature of the original Star Trek meant the actors had the opportunity to make lots of things up as they went along. They had fairly clear mental images of their own characters. They would speak up when something was out of character, and propose changes.
- Riker's trope-naming Badass Beard in season two of The Next Generation was actually grown for a different role, and the actor forgot to shave it off before showing up for rehearsals on the new season of TNG. Both the director and, eventually, the fans loved the look and it became an icon of the character.
- Most, if not all, actors taking the lead role on Doctor Who have had at least some input into their costume design and The Nth Doctor's idiosyncrasies.
- The First Doctor's Character Tic of Accidental Misnaming was inspired by William Hartnell's difficulty remembering the name 'Ian Chesterton' in rehearsal. Since it fit the Doctor's detached and absent-minded personality perfectly, and because William Russell (who played Chesterton) was able to make the cast and crew crack up by adlibbing around them, it was agreed it would become one of his most memorable quirks. (Some fans believe that the manglings of 'Chesterton' in the series itself are all genuine flubs, but a quick look at the script proves this is not the case.)
- Patrick Troughton played the recorder himself, and always carried his recorder with him. This quirk was ported straight into the character of his Doctor. The Second Doctor's Social Expertise also stemmed from Troughton, an intuitive people-watcher who loved reading social dynamics - this impressed Gerry Davis enough that he insisted Troughton play the Doctor like that.
- Jon Pertwee was a gadgets and cars aficionado, and asked if these could be incorporated into his character, along with a moment or two of "charm". Suffice to say his Doctor became the closest to James Bond.
- The Fourth Doctor offering Sarah Jane jelly babies was come up with by Tom Baker and ran with. The fact that Tom Baker's favourite jelly babies were the orange ones was eventually written into the character in "The Invasion of Time". Also, the Attention Whore characteristics written into the character from Season 15 onward were added in when the crew realised they weren't able to stop Tom Baker hamming it up for attention any more.
- Steven Moffat conceptualised Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor with a piratical theme and personality, so when Smith asked to wear a bow tie and to have a dotty and professorial personality, Moffat rejected it out of hand, calling it a 'cartoon idea' of what the Doctor is like. However, Smith eventually persuaded Moffat to give this persona a spin, and Moffat realised it worked perfectly and wrote the scripts to suit.
- Peter Capaldi was apparently very firm that he didn't want his Doctor to have either a romantic relationship with Clara or a paternal relationship, and claims that there was some resistance to this, but he insisted upon it. So far his Doctor has had a little bittersweet Old Flame Fizzle romanticity with her, and a little bit of grandfatherly control, but neither enough to define the relationship entirely; in particular, pushing back right against his Hotter and Sexier predecessors and the Sex Is Interesting of the previous regime in favour of a more Classic-Who-like character with a more alien sexuality.
- According to a Reddit AMA with the writer of "Mummy on the Orient Express", a scene where the Twelfth Doctor offers a cigar case to someone he's interrogating only to reveal it's full of jelly babies was Capaldi's idea.
- Capaldi's past as the guitarist of a punk band (with Craig Ferguson!) has also been added to the series, with the Doctor playing guitar in many Season 9 episodes.
- Several CSI characters were renamed by the actors. William Petersen chose Grissom's last name in honor of astronaut Gus Grissom. Gary Sinise named Mac Taylor, who was to be called Rick Castelluci, after his son, McCanna "Mac", and his Forrest Gump character, Lt. Dan Taylor. It was also Gary's idea for Mac to have lost his wife on 9/11.
- Branson of Downton Abbey was going to be from Yorkshire but actor Allen Leech tried in both that and his native Irish accent. Lord Fellowes decided he liked this and it became the character's entire identity, the change in nationality basically writing its own subplots for the last four series.
- In Bewitched, the reason Samantha wiggled her nose to cast spells is because actress Elizabeth Montgomery had the very rare ability to wiggle her nose.
- The Scrubs Season 1 DVD commentary mentions that Zach Braff (JD's actor) was the one who suggested the theme tune be Superman by Lazlo Bane.
- Also JD's lack of knowledge about sports was added in due to Braff himself not knowing much about them in real life.
- The Janitor as any character at all, much less the character he became, was inspired by Neil Flynn going Off the Rails.
- A variation in Charmed. In the fifth season, Paige abruptly was seen with a different guy every week. Her actress Rose McGowan went to producers and said "Paige isn't a ho" - resulting in more long term romance plots for her.
- Barney Miller: After writers saw Jack Soo eat take-out Chineese food using a pair of pencils as chopsticks, they had his character, Nick Yemana, do the same thing. The bit where Yemana accidentally ate the eraser off the end of a pencil was the writers' invention.
- In True Blood Anna Camp came up with the idea of kissing the severed head during rehearsals, which the directors liked and added.
- Anne Robinson claimed that as the host of The Weakest Link, she was originally supposed to be sympathetic to the contestants being eliminated. However after seeing how nasty the contestants could be to each other, she created the Uber Bitch persona fans are more familiar with.
- The TV version of The Odd Couple featured a greatly increased focus on Oscar's gambling, especially at the track, and Felix's love of opera because those were particular interests of their respective actors. Also, Oscar's wardrobe on the show was, in many cases, Klugman's own.
- Hiro's time-stopping powers on Heroes are extremely special-effects intensive. Luckily, actor Masi Oka worked at Industrial Light and Magic before breaking into acting, and so he knew a thing or two about how special effects crews worked and would often suggest that shots be filmed a certain way to ease the burden on the VFX team.
- The Hawaii Five-0 Fan Built Episode was originally conceived when Masi Oka suggested that they should do an episode with multiple endings; having fans vote on the various elements leading up to the end was just a step away.
- On Glee after Cory Monteith died the producers asked Lea Michele — star and Cory's girlfriend — what she would like to happen with his character, Finn. She opted for The Character Died with Him, and a few seasons got rewritten.
- On Friends, Joey Tribbiani was not originally written as a dim-witted character. Matt Le Blanc suggested it.
- How I Met Your Mother does this a lot. Notably, Neil Patrick Harris' skill with magic tricks was transferred to Barney, while Marshall has Jason Segal's penchant for writing songs about mundane things.
- Mary Martin coming fresh out of the shower helped inspire Richard Rodgers to write "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" for South Pacific. In her own words:
It all started with a crazy idea of mine. It came to me in my shower one day. Richard was working at his desk and I came tearing out of the shower, dripping wet, without a stitch on, to say, "Richard, always in movies and the theater people say, 'I've just washed my hair and I can't do a thing with it.' But they looked utterly perfect. Now, wouldn't it be great if sometime I washed my hair, right on stage, maybe even singing a song, and then came out all dripping? Wouldn't that be a great scene?"
Richard looked a little bit patient and more than a little bit worried.
"Don't you dare tell that to anyone," he said. "Not a soul. If you do, they'll go for it, and then you'll have to do it onstage eight times a week."
- Eddie Riggs in Brütal Legend was at first designed as a general roadie with a hint of Deadpan Snarker, and he even took after Lemmy for a while. As the character was developed, Lemmy himself was given a voice-role, and the designers didn't want to tie him so closely to such an iconic figure. Eventually, elements of Jack Black were thought of, but the designers couldn't have guessed that Jack Black himself would approach them to work on the project (he was a fan of Double Fine's previous work, Psychonauts). Eventually, Eddie became Jack.
- Solid Snake's physical mannerisms from Metal Gear Solid 2 onwards were modelled on those of his Japanese voice actor, Akio Ohtsuka (a strange example as Ohtsuka did not do any of the Motion Capture for the character).
- Adrienne's jeans in Phantasmagoria were not originally part of her costume. The actress wore them in on the first day of filming and the producer decided they were perfect. The actress states that, being already somewhat worn, they were held together by duct tape by the end of shooting.
- In a Canon Immigrant way, Kano was originally Japanese in Mortal Kombat. After being played by an Australian in the movie, further installments had him come from the Land Down Under.
- Seth Green was the only one of the auditionees for Chris in Family Guy who didn't use a "Surfer Dude voice", and Seth MacFarlane thought it was perfect.
- Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender was originally going to be more of a straight-man sidekick (notice his slightly out-of-character Jerkass tendencies towards Aang in the opening episodes) but the creators liked Jack DeSena's comic delivery and occasional ad-libs so much that he was quickly re-tooled into the Plucky Comic Relief.