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Actors Kept In The Dark About Their Roles

Generally, an actor will have complete access to a script before they agree to take a role in a film or a TV show, but occasionally, a crafty director will still throw them a complete curveball. Sometimes, it's to avoid influencing the actor from performing their role in a way that would ruin a potential spoiler. Other times, directors are just angling for pure spontaneity on screen. Whether this kind of acting in the dark puts these characters closer to the truth or just off guard for a more natural reaction on camera, it's a tried and true method to keep everyone involved guessing. These actors were kept clueless in regards to some last-second surprises and major plot twists. As you'd expect, there are spoilers ahead.

Mark Hamill: The Empire Strikes Back

One of the most famous examples of actors being kept in the dark is the reveal of Luke Skywalker's parentage in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, wherein Darth Vader admits that he's Luke's father. Mark Hamill was only told this tidbit moments before filming the scene, so his emotions were still pretty raw. David Prowse, the man behind the asthmatic mask, was actually told to tell Luke that Obi-Wan killed his father, which accounts for some strange body language in the scene (Prowse's dialogue would be dubbed over with the voice of James Earl Jones in post-production). Only James Earl Jones, George Lucas, and Mark Hamill knew the truth at the time of the iconic film's premiere.

Ray Wise: Twin Peaks

David Lynch is a guy who constantly keeps everyone guessing, and his magnum opus, Twin Peaks, was no different. Most of the TV show deals with Agent Dale Cooper hunting down the murderer of Laura Palmer, a pretty girl from a creepy nowhere town. While Lynch says that he knew the killer all along, he didn't inform Ray Wise, who played Laura's father, that Wise was the killer until the day of filming. Notoriously, much of the story was twisted when Lynch realized that a stagehand was accidentally visible in the pilot—so Lynch cast the stagehand as a murderous demon capable of possessing the townspeople. That's one heck of a change-up.

Colin Hanks: Dexter

While no antagonist in Dexter could ever match the intensity of the Trinity Killer, Season 6's Doomsday Killer, played by Colin Hanks, comes close. For most of the season, Hanks' Travis Marshall is seen conversing with the crazy Professor Gellar, played by Edward James Olmos, as the two plot some kooky end-of-days stuff in an abandoned church. It's not until much later in the season that we see that Gellar has been dead the whole time—a fact that only Olmos knew, and kept from the cast, crew, and directors until the reveal. Hanks didn't know that he was actually the killer, or talking to a ghost, until the season was almost done filming.

Bryan Cranston: Breaking Bad

While Bryan Cranston more or less knew the character arc of Walter White through most of the genre-defining Breaking Bad, White's moral ambiguity in season four was a mystery even to Cranston. At one point, a child is poisoned in an unusual way, and it's completely unclear if it was the doing of White, an accident, or something else completely. His partner in crime, Jesse Pinkman, tries to kill White for poisoning the kid, but White argues his way out of it—which is amazingly convincing, because not even Cranston knew that his character was malevolent enough to actually poison a kid...which he did.

Everyone but Alan Rickman: The Harry Potter Series

Way before the final Harry Potter books were written, author J.K. Rowling knew that Severus Snape was going to end up being a good guy after all, which is a plot point that would definitely influence the acting decisions of Alan Rickman. Rickman was the only person told of Snape's true motivations, and since Rowling wasn't present during filming, Rickman subtly guided the production team and cast away from decisions that would act counter to the big reveal in the final film, all without spilling the beans even once.

Slim Pickens: Dr. Strangelove

Imagine being told that you're starring in a serious film as a serious film hero—only to find out that you're the goofy comic relief once the film has been released. Director Stanley Kubrick is notoriously manipulative of the actors in his films, causing many actors to never work with him twice; Slim Pickens himself refused a role in The Shining unless Kubrick promised to keep each scene under 100 takes. For Dr. Strangelove, Pickens was only given his parts of the script and never shown anyone else's role. Despite the deception, Pickens ended up riding his newfound level of fame all the way to the bank.

Danny Lloyd: The Shining

Despite Stanley Kubrick's legendarily cruel treatment of his actors, he was unusually protective of young Danny Lloyd, who played Danny Torrance in The Shining. Danny was led to believe that he was filming a fairly standard drama, and was always kept far from the action during the more horrific scenes. In the rare scene where the shooting couldn't be fudged to make it look like Lloyd was actually there, a dummy was used. Lloyd didn't see the film in full until he was seventeen, nine years after he stopped acting completely.

Gabriel Byrne: The Usual Suspects

The mystery of Keyser Soze is one that's infiltrated much of pop culture, given the complex and misleading criminal mythology presented in The Usual Suspects. Gabriel Byrne, who plays ex-cop Dean Keaton, thought that he was the legendary criminal until seeing the final cut of the film, which reveals the true identity of the mastermind—more or less. While the director maintains that the most obvious solution to the puzzle is presented at the finale, fans continue to speculate about the true identity of Keyser Soze, or if he exists at all.