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5 of the chillest movie moments — and the wild stories behind them

Why Kristen Bell's "Zootopia" cameo and Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day" shenanigans make our list of favorite laid-back scenes.

Inside some of our our favorite - and most chill - move moments ever. Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: Everett Collection
Inside some of our our favorite - and most chill - move moments ever. Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: Everett Collection

Sometimes the chillest movie moments are the most memorable. There is something refreshing about the way that characters often reveal more about themselves in the quiet moments of a film than they do when the action or drama is amped up. With that in mind, here are a few of our favorite chill movie moments — and the surprsing behind-the-scenes stories of how they came together.

Before Sunrise

It would be hard to make a movie that is more chill than Before Sunrise and its sequels, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. All three films are driven by dialogue, especially the first movie, in which Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) wonder Vienna while romantically bonding.

Director Richard Linklater co-wrote Before Sunrise with Kim Krizan, and despite the naturalistic feeling of the dialogue, Hawke and Delpy have stated that their performances only appeared to be improvised. In reality, it was all meticulously planned out on the page.

“On stage, they call that bringing the audience to you,” Hawke told Yahoo Entertainment in 2014. “But they’re really just talking about simplicity. And I think all the greatest actors had an ability to erase that line, where you can’t tell they’re performing.”

“We were talking about how Rich [Linklater] seems laid back, but he’s actually very detail-oriented,” added Delpy in the same interview. “If I take a breather, that was scripted and rehearsed. Which is kind of sad, because you would like to think those kinds of films are entirely improvised. But it’s actually a tremendous amount of work. We rehearse and rehearse and rehearse. And it’s fun when it’s done. But it’s not fun when you’re doing it. It’s the most demanding and stressful thing I’ve done.”

Zoolander

For a movie that embraces manic silliness from start to finish, it’s amazing that the big brainwashing scene in Zoolander — in which Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is turned into an assassin — is one of the most chill parts of the movie. It was also an inspired choice to make Derek’s hypnotic trigger “Relax,” the hit song released in 1983 by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Justin Theroux is almost unrecognizable in that scene, as the Evil DJ who brainwashes Derek. Later in the movie, Theroux’s Evil DJ also has the memorable breakdance fight with Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson). How did such a wild character get in the movie? During a 2012 appearance on Conan, Theroux surprised the audience by revealing he is an avid breakdancer. But the backstory on how he came to breakdance in Zoolander is even more surprising. “Ben saw it once,” Theroux told host Conan O'Brien. “It was actually Ben’s wedding. I [breakdanced] at his wedding.”

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day grapples with many themes, one of which is weatherman Phil Connors’s unending boredom as he wakes up to the same day on repeat thanks to a supernatural time loop forcing him to cover Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa. As Phil (Bill Murray) gradually comes to appreciate all the little, laid-back charms of the town, he realizes he needs to make some major life changes, such romantically courting his news producer, Rita Hanson (Andie MacDowell).

Behind the scenes, MacDowell reveals that Murray was anything but boring. “I’ll tell you the funny thing about Bill: You don’t know what to expect with him. He is a unique person,” MacDowell told Yahoo Entertainment in 2019. “He is extremely creative. Fresh. Every time he does a scene, it’s fresh, it’s new, he’s adding nuances to it. Off camera, he’s just as weird, maybe weirder. Because he’s just being him.”

In the movie, Phil takes his groundhog namesake, Punxsutawney Phil, for a wild ride. According to MacDowell, Murray did something similar with her by going rogue while they were filming a scene in a car.

“He just took off,” recalled MacDowell. “And I was like, ‘What are you doing? Where are we going, Bill?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, I just thought we’d go for a ride.’ So we just left [for] about 10, 15 minutes.”

Zootopia

One of the most remarkable reveals in Disney’s Zootopia is that the DMV of this anthropomorphic world is staffed by slow-moving sloths. It was a fitting choice that made sense to anyone who has ever spent hours navigating the bureaucracy of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is particularly driven up a wall by a friendly sloth named Flash, who speaks incredibly slowly. Flash is so chill, he probably doesn’t even know the meaning of the word “fast.”

What many fans may not know is that Kristen Bell makes a cameo in the film as a sloth named Priscilla, saying just two words: “Yes, Flash?” The film’s producers told SlashFilm in 2016 that they invited Bell to do the voiceover after watching her hilarious appearance on the talk show Ellen, during which she confessed her deep and unshakable love of sloths.

Also worth noting: The person who voiced Flash, Raymond Persi, wasn’t actually supposed to do the voiceover. In fact, Persi isn’t even an actor. Instead, he was an artist on the film and his scene-stealing role happened by accident.

“As a story artist, part of your job is to pitch what you’ve drawn, and so sometimes by pitching it you’re acting out and doing little voices,” Persi told Made in Hollywood Teen in 2017. “You’ll do the scratch [recording] and they'’ll realize, ‘Yeah, that works.’ That’s happened for me on a couple of films here, including this one.”

The film’s producers told SlashFilm that Persi’s tone was hilarious in those scratch tracks and only his delivery worked.

And a slo-mo hero was born.