Five actors who died before a movie finished shooting

Paul Walker died during filming on Fast and Furious 7. It’s not the first time a star has passed away before a movie is finished shooting, writes Susan Griffin

Five actors who died before a movie finished shooting

IN NOVEMBER 2013, news reached the set of Fast And Furious 7 that Paul Walker had been killed in a car accident.

He was 40, and along with Vin Diesel, the actor had become synonymous with the story of a team of street racers, in a franchise that’s racked up $2.4bn at the box office.

Initially there was talk of halting production — but the team concluded that Walker would have wanted to see the movie finished.

“We had to continue, not in spite of what happened, but actually because of it,” noted producer Neal H Moritz.

Utilising unused footage from previous movies, special effects, and the assistance of his brothers Caleb and Cody as stand-ins, Walker’s final appearance in the film series became a reality.

Here are other movies where people pulled together after losing a star:

Oliver Reed, Gladiator

Oliver Reed died of a heart attack while on a break from filming the Roman epic Gladiator in 1999, with Russell Crowe.

The 61-year-old plays slave dealer Proximo and was considered a key character. For that reason, it was reported that insurers would have covered the cost to reshoot the scenes with another actor, but director Ridley Scott didn’t want to lose the movie legend.

The script was rejigged, sequences re-edited, and a double was used with his face replaced through CGI.

Brandon Lee, The Crow

The Crow is a dark comic book thriller, in which a man returns from the dead to seek revenge for his and his fiancee’s murder.

It achieved notoriety when its lead actor, 28-year-old Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died after accidentally being shot during the scene in which his character returns to the flat to find his fiancee being attacked, back in 1993.

Although there were only a few days of filming to go, production ceased. It took a new studio to step in and inject the money that was needed to complete the film.

A few rewrites were made and Lee’s face was digitally composed onto a body double. The movie opened with great success and a remake starring Luke Evans is now in the pipeline.

Roy Kinnear, The Return Of The Musketeers

Roy Kinnear was shooting The Return Of The Musketeers, co-starring Oliver Reed and Frank Finlay, in 1988, when he was involved in on an on-set accident.

The 54-year-old fell off a horse, suffering pelvic injuries and internal bleeding, and died in hospital a day later.

It would later transpire he was “a nervous, incompetent” horseman but wasn’t offered a stunt double, when his family fought for damages in the High Court.

His friend, director Richard Lester was determined to see his final appearance come to fruition on the big screen, so his scenes were completed using a stand-in, shot from the back, while a voice-artist dubbed his lines in.

John Candy, Wagons East!

John Candy, the larger than life funny man who dominated comedies in the 1980s, was shooting the western parody Wagons East! when he died of a heart attack in his sleep, aged 43.

In the movie, he plays a grizzled, boozy wagon driver, who agrees to take a motley crew of settlers back East.

When Candy died, there were only a few days of filming left to go, and the team felt it only right to carry on and get it in the can. A stand-in was enlisted and some earlier footage reused for scenes.

The film was released five months after Candy passed away, but unfortunately, it was panned by critics and proved a box office bomb.

Heath Ledger, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

Heath Ledger was filming Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus when he was found unconscious in his New York apartment in 2008, and later pronounced dead (from acute intoxication).

Shooting was suspended but, after a brief hiatus, Gilliam continued with the project without the 28-year-old Australian. The film’s fantastical element lent itself to changes, and Colin Farrell, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp were enlisted to depict Ledger’s character, as he travels through magical lands.

In 2009, the same year the film was released, Ledger posthumously won the best supporting actor Oscar for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

Fast And Furious 7 is in cinemas today

READ MORE: These are the ten most important women in recent rap history

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