It's easy to forget all the work that goes into making a movie. From script writing, to costume design and editing, a lot goes in to making your favorite films. So when one of the leading actors dies before the movie is finished, the studio starts to panic about how to proceed.
Some times movies are able to soldier on without the actor. Whether it's rewriting scripts, or using the help of digital technology, they're somehow able to make it work and the film becomes a successful tribute to the actor's final performance. However, that's not always the case. Some movies never see their release, or if they do, are a flop at the box office.
Here are 9 movies that suffered the death of a leading actor while filming was still in progress, and what the studio did about it.
How many of these movies do you remember?
Bruce Lee - The Game of Death
Lee died suddenly in 1973 after filming Enter the Dragon. Just before shooting that movie, the martial arts legend had suspended production on Game of Death.
The actor had planned to write, direct and star in the movie. He had shot 30 minutes of usable footage before production shut down.
After his death, the production company found the footage and wrote a new script based around it.
The resulting version of Game of Death was met with outrage from Lee's fans because the studio incorporated Lee's footage, as well as video from his funeral.
Paul Walker - Furious 7
While some consider his death ironic, others find it an incredibly sad coincidence. Paul Walker died in a car accident in 2013 while he was in the middle of filming Furious 7.
They continued the movie after his death, but rewrote the ending to show respect for Paul. With the help of his brothers Cody and Caleb, as well as computer-generated imagery, the film was completed without the actor.
Heath Ledger - The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Together with Heath Ledger, director Terry Gilliam put together the 2008 semi-autobiographical fantasy. Ledger played a key role in the film's production, helping to produce, finance and act in the film.
After Ledger died of a drug overdose, the film was left in limbo.
Gilliam wanted to finish the film to honor Ledger's legacy, and that's when Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law came into the picture. The 3 close friends offered their services to finish the movie and donated their salaries to Ledger's daughter, Matilda.
The script was reworked and Gilliam withdrew his name from the credit and replaced it with "A Film from Heath Ledger and his Friends."
Brandon Lee - The Crow
The son of martial arts legend, Bruce Lee, was killed in 1993 during a stunt accident on the set of The Crow. His character walked through a doorway carrying a grocery bag, when another actor fired blanks at him. Lee activated a toggle switch under the grocery bag and set off a small charge to simulate the gunfire effects. He was hit in the abdomen by a projectile and later died that day at the age of 28.
Director Alex Proyas used a double and special effects to complete the movie.
Continue to the next page for Natalie Wood's unfinished work and a Gladiator actor that died before filming wrapped.
Marilyn Monroe - Something's Got To Give
Still unfinished, the romantic comedy Something's Got To Give sees Marilyn Monroe opposite Cary Grant. At the time Monroe has earned herself a reputation for drugs and alcohol abuse, which affected her ability to work productively.
After filming several weeks on the project, she was fired by director George Cukor for her lateness and continually forgetting her lines.
After appealing to her friends in the cast, she was rehired for the film. Unfortunately she overdosed on sleeping pills before filming could resume, and the movie was never completed.
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Mockingjay Part 1
The world was shocked about the sudden death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. What most people didn't know was that Hoffman had struggled with a drug addiction and had relapsed. He passed away of a heroin overdose.
At the time of his death, he had only 2 scenes left to film in The Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 1. With some careful rewriting and some digital help, the film was completed and went on to earn over $650 million worldwide.
Oliver Reed - Gladiator
Through his long and acclaimed acting career, Oliver Reed grew infamous for his reputation as a boozy lothario. Taking a role in Gladiator which played a boozy former glad iator, only seemed natural.
After filming for 5 months, Reed died of a sudden heart attack before he was able to finish his scenes.
Director Ridley Scott revised the script to kill off Reed's character and with the help of a body double and digital changes, the film was completed in his memory.
River Phoenix - Dark Blood
Earning one Oscar nomination prior to his death at age 23, River Phoenix had been declared the actor of his generation. He had privately dealt with drug use over several years, when he finally overdosed on cocaine and heroin while at a Hollywood nightclub.
Before his death, he had been shooting Dark Blood, an independent film. With only 3 weeks of shooting left, the production fell into limbo after his death.
Phoenix's family refused participation even though director George Sluzier made it clear he wanted to finish the film. The movie was released in 2012 with Sluzier providing some narration to smooth over the unfinished scenes.
Natalie Wood - Brainstorm
Oscar winners Louise Fletcher, Christopher Walken and acclaimed actress Natalie Wood were recruited by Douglas Trumbull, the man behind the visual marvels of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Production had almost wrapped when Walken, Wood and her husband, actor Robert Wagner, decided to take a boat trip one evening. During a storm Wood slipped, fell off the boat and drowned.
The studio wanted to cancel the film, but a clause in Trumbull's contract forced him to proceed anyways. The resulting movie flopped and ended his directing career.
How do you think these movies handled the deaths of lead actors? Share your opinion with us!
Source: Screen Rant