Uncover Hollywood’s Secrets: Top 10 Iconic Movie Scenes Using ADR

Have you ever watched an intense, dramatic movie scene and been completely transported by the incredible dialogue delivery? Lines like “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws or “You had me at ‘hello'” from Jerry Maguire are so well-executed that it’s hard to imagine they could have been recorded any other way than live on set.

However, the truth is that many famous, iconic movie moments actually used a post-production process called ADR, or Automated Dialogue Replacement. Despite the seamless final result, the actor’s lines in these classic scenes were recorded separately in a studio and later seamlessly layered over the filming footage.

ADR is an essential tool in a filmmaker’s arsenal, allowing for refined dialogue tracks, the ability to fix audio issues, and the flexibility to tweak performances. When done well by skilled editors, sound designers, and actors, ADR can be completely undetectable to the average viewer. Many movie buffs would be surprised at just how prevalent this technique is in Hollywood blockbusters and beloved films alike.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into 10 of the most famous examples of ADR being used in unforgettable movie scenes that have gone on to become cinematic legends. From action flicks to romantic comedies, you’ll get the inside scoop on how seamless ADR work elevated these iconic silver screen moments.

  1. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws

It’s one of the most parodied and quoted lines in movie history, uttered by the gruff, eccentric fisherman Quint after getting a terrifying first glimpse at the massive great white shark. In a claustrophobic scene rife with tension, the simple line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” crystallizes the sheer implausibility of their quest while also injecting some perfectly-timed levity.

However, the line itself was actually recorded months after principal filming had wrapped through the magic of ADR. According to production audio footage, actor Robert Shaw’s original delivery of the line was difficult to clearly understand. Given the sheer importance and memorability of this moment, director Steven Spielberg quickly made the wise decision to have Shaw re-record a crisp, impactful version of “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” in post-production.

The result is a line delivery that has become permanently etched into popular culture. Shaw’s gravelly, New England-inflected voice rings out with chilling clarity, simultaneously humorous yet foreboding of the sheer terror still to come. It’s an iconic movie moment that would simply not have landed with the same comedic weight and memorability without the benefits of ADR.

  1. “I’m walking here!” from Midnight Cowboy

You can practically hear the thick, abrasive New York accent through this immortal line reading from Dustin Hoffman in the gritty 1969 drama Midnight Cowboy. The scene takes place on a crowded, squalid Manhattan street when an irate pedestrian brushes by a bright-eyed hustler played by Jon Voight, nearly getting struck by a taxi in the process.

Like many of the most famous movie lines, “I’m walking here!” was an improvised moment of dialogue brilliance courtesy of Hoffman. But here’s where ADR came into play – Hoffman’s improvised line was barely picked up by the on-set recording equipment due to the overwhelming location sound of cars, pedestrians, and general street noise.

In post-production, the sound team decided this spontaneous ad-lib was too perfect to let go. They had Hoffman recreate his inflection and cadence for “I’m walking here!” in a controlled studio environment using ADR, allowing his unmistakable delivery to be front and center when the scene reached theaters.

Few would argue that “I’m walking here!” is as iconic and culturally significant without Hoffman’s manic urgency and pitch-perfect performance. It has since become not only one of the most quoted lines of dialogue in movie history, but also a timeless encapsulation of the frenetic New York City lifestyle. Thankfully ADR saved the day here.

  1. “You had me at ‘hello'” from Jerry Maguire

You’ll have a hard time finding a more swoon-worthy, romantic movie quote than the culminating line of the famous living room scene in Jerry Maguire. It’s the emotional climax of several long acts of sexual tension and verbal foreplay between Renee Zellweger’s single mom Dorothy and the slick sports agent Jerry, played by Tom Cruise. After pouring her heart out, Dorothy is at her most vulnerable when she utters those five magic words – “You had me at ‘hello.'”

A perfect, crystallization of the “meet-cute” romantic comedy formula executed to perfection by Zellweger. But there’s a catch – those iconic words of endearment were actually an ADR recording done in post-production, not captured live during filming of the scene.

According to the Jerry Maguire script, Dorothy’s original line was “You had me at ‘hello,’ but then you just kinda strayed.” However, Zellweger delivered a version that truncated the second half of the line but didn’t have quite the right emotional resonance coming across on camera.

After filming, the wise decision was made to bring Zellweger into an ADR booth to re-record her tender delivery of “You had me at ‘hello'” in isolation. With the ability to tweak the performance, Zellweger was able to tap into the raw sincerity and heartfelt emotion the scene demanded, cementing her star-making turn.

Just watch the scene again – the crystal clear audio of Zellweger’s inflection registers at a far higher fidelity than one would expect from a live on-set recording. That rich, lush sound quality is the hallmark of expertly executed ADR work. The result is one of the most shiveringly romantic dialogue exchanges in modern American cinema.

  1. The Lobby Shootout in The Matrix

One of the most revolutionary and influential action sequences in modern movie history is without a doubt the sprawling, mind-bending lobby shootout scene in the first Matrix film. In a landmark display of the movie’s crisp, slo-mo “bullet time” special effects, Neo and Trinity engaged in a hyper-stylized, ultra-choreographed battle royale against a squad of security guards and agents.

While the visual effects were groundbreaking, the ADR work on this scene was nearly as integral to selling the frantic yet graceful firefight to audiences. As he dodges bullets in slow-motion or twists and contorts his body to unleash a hail of gunfire, Keanu Reeves’ dialogue in this scene was almost entirely replaced through ADR sessions.

Not only did the heavy, sustained amounts of airborne debris, pyrotechnics, and special effects rigs make it next to impossible to capture usable live audio, but ADR allowed the sound team to fine-tune every gruff grunt, clever quip, and stoic one-liner to sync with the choreography. It ensured not a single spoken syllable would be lost amidst the whirlwind of action unfolding.

This slavish dedication to meticulous sound editing and mixing is a huge part of why The Matrix raised the bar for how intricate fight sequences are produced in Hollywood. Every line of dialogue packs a visceral punch in the lobby scene, and it’s all thanks to the precise, immaculate ADR treatment melding seamlessly with the action choroegraphy.

  1. “They’re he-ere…” from Poltergeist

Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist is a masterclass in paranormal horror filmmaking, assaulting audiences with a terrifying series of twisted set pieces centered around a family plagued by malevolent spirits. From the clown doll attack to the gnarled beast emerging from the fuzzy TV static, many of the most hair-raising Poltergeist moments hinge on young actress Heather O’Rourke’s dialogue delivery in her performance as Carol Anne.

In one early scene that sets the tone for the entire movie, little Carol Anne sits before a possessed television set and lets out a whispery, demonic delivery of “They’re he-ere…” While an unforgettable line, it actually wasn’t recorded that way on set. Rather, it was a combination of O’Rourke recording the line separately along with some eerie vocal processing and effects added by the sound team in post.

The attention to detail paid by the ADR team and sound designers helped maximize the creepy, unnatural cadence of O’Rourke’s performance. What you hear in the film is a heavily distorted, bone-chilling version that punches the line with much more disquieting impact than if a child actress simply delivered it live on set. It immediately establishes the omnipresent, malicious supernatural forces at play and plunges the audience into a sustained sense of dread right from the opening minutes of Poltergeist. This is the power of well-executed ADR – taking an already eerie performance and amplifying it into something truly haunting.

  1. “Show me the money!” from Jerry Maguire

Earlier we highlighted Renee Zellweger’s iconic “You had me at ‘hello'” line being an ADR replacement in the romantic comedy Jerry Maguire. But her co-star Cuba Gooding Jr. also owes one of the most quoted moments of his career to the magic of ADR as well.

In the scene where bombastic football player Rod Tidwell is negotiating a new contract with the slick sports agent Jerry Maguire, Gooding’s improvised line “Show me the money!” became an instant cultural phenomenon upon the film’s release in 1996. It was such a resonant, catchy piece of dialogue that it quickly seeped into the mainstream lexicon as shorthand for being aggressive in salary negotiations.

Of course, the wiry, energetic Gooding delivered the line to Tom Cruise with his usual animated gusto during filming. However, due to the challenges of capturing clean audio from multiple actors talking over one another, the sound team decided to have Gooding recreate his improvised line isolation during an ADR session.

This allowed them to capture a robust, in-your-face audio take of “Show me the money!” that could cut through the din of the heated argument scene with clarity. Gooding’s ADR performance also had a bit more professionalism and “oomph” behind it compared to his on-set improvisation, which helped cement it as one of the most iconic movie quotes of the 1990s.

  1. “Keep the change” from Taxi Driver

Martin Scorsese’s bleak, unsettling character study of troubled loner Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver is absolutely drenched in ADR dialogue replacement work. From Robert De Niro’s signature voiceovers to key moments of dramatic confrontation, the film’s sound team leaned heavily on ADR to present the grime and seedy underbelly of 1970s New York City.

This technical approach reached its crescendo in the famous diner scene, where Bickle’s warped attempts at flirting with campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) crescendos into a shockingly vulgar meltdown. “Keep the change,” Bickle growls after Betsy hastily exits their awkward date, tossing loose change onto the table in reviled disgust.

De Niro originally delivered the line in character on set, no doubt injecting Bickle’s trademark menace and instability into the throwaway remark. However, the sound editing process decided that a pristine, crystal-clear recreation of “Keep the change” would add even more queasy tension and unease to the moment.

Enter: ADR. By having De Niro meticulously re-record the line in a controlled studio environment, the ensuing silence and direness of “Keep the change” became deafeningly apparent. Like the calm before a a storm of unhinged violence about to erupt. It’s a masterful example of how even a simple ADR line reading can become unforgettable when merged with powerful filmmaking.

  1. “That’ll do, pig” from Babe

For a film about a talking pig, 1995’s Babe seems like an unlikely candidate for needing extensive ADR work. After all, the animal characters’ dialogue was mostly added in post-production already. However, the softer, emotional moments between the curious farm pig and his kind-hearted human friend actually did require some deft ADR touches.

The climactic scene where Farmer Hoggett embraces Babe and praises him by declaring “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do,” is a tender, quiet payoff after the pig’s heroics earlier in the film. It’s a beautiful sentiment that could have been easily fumbled or undercut by distracting background noise from the rural set’s production audio.

To pristinely capture the warmth and sincerity in James Cromwell’s fatherly delivery of the line, the sound editors decided to re-record his vocal performance through ADR. This gave them a lush, intimate audio capture of “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do” free of any intrusive incidental noises or nearby equipment sounds.

The result is a line reading overflowing with gentle affection, one that any viewer would naturally assume was recorded organically on set. But it’s the level of nuanced control and finesse possible through ADR that allows the emotional impact to fully resonate with audiences. It’s a great example of how some of the quietest, most understated performances can benefit from ADR’s capabilities.

  1. “You’re killing me, Smalls!” from The Sandlot

The 1990s nostalgic comedy The Sandlot may not seem like a likeky candidate for extensive ADR work given its humble, low-budget nature. However, there’s one particular scene and line delivery that owes its entire legacy to being re-recorded through the magic of Automated Dialogue Replacement.

Early in the film, the ragtag band of baseball-loving kids test the abilities of their newest player, the timid Smalls, during a quick game of pickle. When Smalls loses track of an easy pop-fly ball and it clanks harmlessly off his forehead, his frustrated teammates yell in unison, “You’re killing me, Smalls!”

It’s an improvised but oh-so-fitting comedic reaction line that became one of the most quoted moments from the film. However, upon reviewing the footage, the directors realized that the rambunctious sounds of kids playing pickup baseball had completely obliterated the original on-set recording of the dialogue.

To save the moment, each of the young actors was brought in one by one to recreate their individual line readings of “You’re killing me, Smalls!” in an ADR booth. The result was a crisp, punchy vocal performance laid over the footage that cut through all the background noise and landed the joke perfectly.

This is a great example of how ADR isn’t just for big-budget blockbusters with complex action sequences, but can elevate even the simplest vocal moments in more modest productions. It’s a subtle yet critical use that ensures the humor rings through loud and clear.

  1. “Here’s looking at you, kid” from Casablanca

We close out our list of iconic movie scenes aided by ADR with perhaps the most romantic, timelessly beloved dialogue exchange ever captured on celluloid. The bittersweet chemistry between Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine and Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa Lund during their final parting in Casablanca is the epitome of classic Hollywood filmmaking.

As Rick and Ilsa share one last longing glance before parting ways, Bogart delivers a fittingly wistful “Here’s looking at you, kid” to cap off their star-crossed relationship. It instantly became one of the most famous farewell lines in cinematic history, beloved by generations of filmgoers.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that Bogart’s now-iconic delivery was altered during post-production using ADR techniques that were highly innovative for their time in 1942. A sound editor working on Casablanca had Bogart re-record the line separately with the intent of making his audio richer, fuller, and more resonant for the film’s theatrical exhibition.

While a common practice today, this was the first major example of an actor’s dialogue being completely overhauled and enhanced using the revolutionary sound editing processes of the day. The resulting “Here’s looking at you, kid” that made it into the film is a deeper, more lush performance from Bogart that arguably carries more dramatic impact than his original on-set line reading.

It’s a testament to how pioneering the pursuit of pristine dialogue recordings has been in Hollywood dating back to the earliest days of the industry. Every time you hear Bogart’s iconic farewell in Casablanca, you’re experiencing one of the first major ADR enhancements in film history. Not bad for a little line befitting of a timeless romance.


From comedy classics to gritty dramas to towering achievements in action cinema, the art of Automated Dialogue Replacement has been an indispensable technique in bringing some of Hollywood’s most enduring, quotable moments to life. While completely seamless and undetectable when done well, the examples in this article showcase how ADR has been used time and again to elevate good performances into iconic ones burned into our collective pop culture memory.

The next time you find yourself mouthing along to a famous movie quote or line of dialogue, there’s a decent chance it originally came from the carefully-controlled environment of a sound booth rather than the hectic reality of an active film set. That level of polish and attention to vocal detail is a huge part of what separates merely good movies from those with lasting, cultural imprints.

So keep an ear out for oddly crisp, clear pockets of pristine dialogue rising above the fray the next time you watch a major film. It’s very likely you’re witnessing the seamless work of an entire team of ADR professionals dedicated to ensuring each pivotal line hits like a velvet-wrapped punch to the senses. Their pursuit of aural perfection is a vital, if often unsung, ingredient that contributes to cinema’s most timeless moments.

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