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The Improvised Roy Scheider Line That Changed Jaws Forever

Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic "Jaws" is now one of the most famous movies of all time. Despite coming from a relatively unknown director at the time — as hard as that is to imagine with Spielberg — the film became an absolute blockbuster. According to Box Office Mojo, "Jaws" made a whopping $260 million worldwide, far surpassing its budget of $7 million. Now, it's consistently regarded as one of the best movies of all time.

If you somehow are unfamiliar with the synopsis of "Jaws," which was penned by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb and based on the 1974 novel by Benchley, then here it is: Set in a beach town called Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) finds himself hunting down a man-eating great white shark after it has begun attacking beachgoers. Martin gets help from a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a professional shark hunter (Robert Shaw) in the endeavor.

Cinephiles who have seen the film know that it's filled with iconic moments and lines. And one of those lines just so happened to be improvised by the film's star, Scheider — and you may be surprised to learn about the inspiration behind it.

Scheider knew the right time for the famous line

If you ask someone to name a quote from "Jaws," they'll likely respond with, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." The lines comes soon after Chief Brody sees the man-eating shark up close for the first time. It has since become one of the most famous movie lines of all time — and even came in third in The Hollywood Reporter's list of best movie quotes ever. As it turns out, the line has an interesting history behind it.

In an interview with THR, writer Carl Gottlieb explained that came about during rewrites of the film and reflected their "real life problem" of having too small of a boat to carry all the necessary equipment while shooting in the ocean. He said, "[Richard] Zanuck and [David] Brown were very stingy producers, so everyone kept telling them, 'You're gonna need a bigger boat.' It became a catchphrase for anytime anything went wrong — if lunch was late or the swells were rocking the camera, someone would say, 'You're gonna need a bigger boat.'"

Because of the running joke, lead actor Roy Scheider began ad-libbing it into different scenes while filming — including the moment that made it into the film. Gottlieb concluded, "It was so appropriate and so real and it came at the right moment, thanks to Verna Field's editing."