Some actors who died suddenly shocked us so much that many of us know the details of the story by heart. Others, over time, have been enriched by a sort of macabre legend that attempted to justify their heartbreaking loss, while still others have disturbed us for the sudden violence with which they occurred.
These untimely deaths represented a big problem for the production, which not only found itself having to manage the desperation of fans loyal to the character of the series or film from which he passed away, but also for the continuation of the show itself, which it is often overhauled in the running to remedy (at least fictionally) the sudden loss of the actor.
Not always an easy undertaking, especially when the one in question is part of the deaths halfway through the making of a series or a film.
1) Brandon Lee – The Crow
Perhaps the most striking case of deaths on the set that can be remembered, so much so that the thought that there is a curse to justify the cause is uncomfortable. Brandon Lee, son of the better known Bruce (who also died on the set in suspicious circumstances), died on March 31, 1993, at the age of only 28, during the making of the beautiful film that would later consecrate him to cinematic immortality. The Raven.
According to the investigations made after the tragedy, it turned out that Brandon’s death was due to the negligence of the operators on the set of the film by Alex Proyas. Who hadn’t properly deprived all the bullets to be used during the scene where Eric Draven confronts Funboy in his apartment, of their primer. One of them was still inserted and when the blank bullet was fired during the scene, the nose cone stuck during the rehearsals exploded against the actor’s stomach.
Fortunately for the director, those were the last shots of the film and it was possible during the editing phase to finish it thanks to all the footage already taken.
2) Andy Whitfield – Spartacus
The first protagonist of the bloody television series produced by was only 37 years old Starz. His noble gladiator had captured the hearts of many fans, who followed the show also because they were seduced by the beauty and skill of the Australian actor. Struck by Hodgkin’s lymphoma which took him away in just eighteen months, the actor was able to say goodbye to his fans by making them aware of his condition, so much so that he gave his blessing regarding the choice of the actor, appointed by the production to fill her starring role on the show.
It wasn’t easy for fans to accept this change but then, the only alternative was to end the series already in the first season, and Whitfield himself didn’t want that to happen either.
3) Vic Morrow – The Twilight Zone
One of the most chilling deaths involving an actor and his crew members is undoubtedly that of Vic Morrow and little ones Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin – Yi.
The movie of John Landis, taken from the TV series of the same name, was made up of several episodes and the one where Morrow starred would have been the unpublished one. In the film, the actor played a Nazi forced by time travel in parallel realities, to confront the worst examples of anti-Semitic persecution that ever existed and to review his own considerations. During a scene in Vietnam, the actor and his two little co-stars were involved in the crash of a helicopter, which had to fly much lower than the rules allowed on the set by the director’s will. The aircraft was disturbed due to the low frequency at which it flew by explosions on the set that were supposed to simulate bombing.
The pilots lost control of the vehicle which crashed into the river that the three actors were wading during the scene, ending up decapitating Vic Morrow and little Myca with its shovels and leaving Renee mortally wounded.
A tragedy and a shock for all the unforgettable cast, John Landis was tried for the incidentnot only for his claims that had caused the death of his actors but also because the two underage boys were shooting the offending scene at two in the morning, which is illegal under the laws regulating child labor.
4) Heath Ledger – Parnassus – The man who wanted to deceive the devil
Heath Ledger, one of the most charismatic actors of his generation, passed away on January 28, 2008, at the age of only 28, without being able to finish the film by Terry Gilliam in which he starred in the role of the picturesque street vendor.
An overdose of drugs prescribed by his doctor cut short the life of the young actor, who seemed to suffer from frequent insomnia. In addition to having left his filmmaker friend’s film unfinished, Heath was also unable to enjoy the incredible success that the second chapter of the saga Batmanmade by Christopher Nolan, he got upon its theatrical release. In addition to giving him his first Oscar after several nominations in previous years, his Joker would have definitively crowned him in the Olympus of the great Hollywood stars.
Having disappeared at the beginning of the shooting of the film, Gilliam decided to honor his lost friend by timing the shooting and dedicating the work to him, hiring three friends of the late interpreter to replace him in the continuation of the plot; Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Johnny Depp.
To justify the physical change of the character, Gilliam modified the plot of the film so that Parnassus would have the gift of changing his appearance once he crossed the magic looking glass.
5) John Ritter – 8 simple rules
The famous actor who passed away on September 11, 2003 was only 54 years old. After taking part in very famous films of the eighties and nineties such as , IT e Little pest he had reinvented himself in the world of sitcoms achieving great success.
And it is precisely on one of these that he left, during a scene of 8 simple rules, the actor in fact collapsed due to an aortic dissection, which cost him his life. The production of the show later decided to continue the series with the sudden and completely unexpected death of the head of the family, transmitting the dismay of the entire cast of the series through the remaining characters.
6) Lee Thompson Young – Rizzoli & Isles
The beautiful 29-year-old actor was expected on the set of an episode of the police series on August 19, 2013, but a strong and unusual delay of the actor had made the production of the show suspicious.
Later, the actor’s lifeless body was found in his home, killed by a gunshot that the actor allegedly shot himself. The investigations will confirm the hypothesis of suicide a little later, which will make this sad and premature death even more shocking.
In Rizzoli & Isles, Lee played the ingenious detective Barry and after his death the writers of the series decided to have the character have a car accident. In episode 5×02 titled… Goodbye, the show praises the actor by dedicating the entire episode to him, commemorating him.
7) Paul Walker – The Fast and Furious Saga
He died during the filming of Fast and Furious 7 the Californian actor and this event, in addition to deeply shocking his many fans, also upset the very close-knit cast of the beloved automotive saga.
The actor, on a break from the set, crashed on Hercules Street in Santa Clarita in California on November 30, 2013. His friend Roger Rodas was with him aboard his Porsche Carrera GT and both died in the fire caused by the car crashing into a concrete lamppost. Finishing the film without Brian’s character was an idea that the film’s director didn’t even consider, to the point that he even considered canceling the entire film.
Spurred on by the cast, he finally decided to commemorate the actor by completing the filming, modifying the plot, using CGI and making use of the collaboration of Paul Walker’s brothers who, being very similar to the actor, acted as stunt doubles in some scenes.
The seventh installment of the saga concludes with a touching monologue recited by Vin Diesel, who greets his friend and colleague on behalf of all the cast and fans of the action film series.
8) Redd Foxx – The Royal Family
The almost 70-year-old comedian died while filming an episode of the sitcom. He died in front of the public and colleagues who at first believed that his was a joke, a joke that the actor used to make on the set of another series in which he had worked, Sanford and Son.
Unable to revive him, the actor died to the shock of all present.
9) Cory Montheit – Glee
On July 23, 2013, the little more than thirty-year-old actor of the ill-fated series died Ryan Murphy. To kill him a cocktail of alcohol and heroin that left him no way out, upsetting all the fans of the show about the singing losers. Cory already had a troubled past with the world of addiction, which he had dealt with by entering rehab as early as 19 and returning to it many times afterward.
Even the relationship with the co-star of the show, Leah Michele did not help the actor as well as the closeness with his family, the actor suddenly left, leaving the series orphaned by its protagonist is shocking the world.
Finn Hudson’s death gave the authors the opportunity to create one of the most touching episodes of the entire series, in fact in the third episode of the fifth season, entitled The Quaterbackthe entire cast says goodbye to their missing friend, expressing their grief through music.
The production chose not to give an explanation, within the plot, to the disappearance of the character, so as to be able to let the episode be extremely real and act as a real farewell by every single member of the cast.
10) Michelle Thomas – Eight under one roof
The story of this young actress is really very sad, as she starred in two famous sitcoms of the 1990s, The Robinsons and Eight under a Roof. In her first Michelle she found her life partner who was close to her until her death at the age of 30, the actor who plays Theo, Malcolm-jamal Warner. In the second, she played comedian Steve Urkel’s eternal unrequited love.
During the making of the series, the actress began to experience pain, had herself checked and discovered that she had a very aggressive form of stomach cancer. She refused chemotherapy in order not to risk her chances of having children and underwent two operations to try to survive but which had no effect.
Given the state of his health, his appearances on the show became more and more rare from time to time, until his untimely death finally put an end to them.
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