Life does not always have good surprises for us, as in the case of these 16 actors who, at the height of their careers, died while they were shooting a film.
And their disappearance, in addition to having left family and friends in tears, also brought producers and directors to their knees who had to find a solution to make up for their “absence”.
1. Heath Ledger
By the time he passed away at the age of 28, Heath Ledger had already completed filming “The Dark Knight” as the Joker. The actor at that time was engaged in “Parnassus – The man who wanted to deceive the devil”. Ledger was found dead on January 22, 2008 in his New York apartment. A toxicological examination revealed that the cause of death was attributable to an accidental overdose of regularly prescribed medicines. Filming for “Parnassus – The Man Who Wanted to Deceive the Devil” was then suspended before Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law were hired to replace Ledger in some scenes. The film was dedicated to the Australian actor and producer William Vince, who passed away in the same year.
2. David Carradine
3. Marilyn Monroe
On August 5, 1962, Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home. The actress at that time was filming “Something’s Got to Give” which was later left unfinished. The 36-year-old died from an overdose of sleeping pills. It never became clear whether Monroe did it intentionally or not. Excerpts from the film were used in a documentary made about the movie star. As for the film, it was completely turned over in 1963, its name was changed and the lead actress was, in that case, Doris Day.
4. River Phoenix
After his memorable performance in “Stand by Me”, River Phoenix had caught the attention of many directors. So much so that the actor didn’t even know how to handle success and demands. Unfortunately, his career came to a tragic and early end due to his death while filming “Dark Blood”. On October 31, 1993, River had fainted in the arms of his younger brother, Joaquin, in front of the “Viper Room” owned by good friend Jonny Depp. River had had a heart attack when he was only 23. He was rushed to hospital and his death was declared. A toxicological examination revealed the presence of heroin, cocaine, valium and THC in the blood. A drug cocktail that had cost him his life. The movie “Dark Blood” was completed in 2012,
5. John Ritter
John Ritter had a contagious smile. Known for “Three Hearts for Rent”, his last role was that of Paul Hennessey in the television series “8 Simple Rules”. During filming, Ritter complained of chest pain and was then transported to the nearby hospital where he died on September 11, 2003, aged 54, due to an aortic dissection. To pay homage to his memory, the producers decided to include his character’s death in the series.
6. Philip Seymour Hoffman
After having held important roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman had conquered even the youngest audience thanks to “Mission Impossible III” and, above all, “The Hunger Games”. And it was during the filming of the third film in the series “Hunger Games: Song of Revolt – Part 2” the actor had passed away. With drug problems from a young age, Hoffman changed his life in 1989, staying clean for 24 years. He relapsed into addiction in 2013 and was admitted to a clinic for detoxification. Unfortunately without success. On February 2, 2014, at the age of 46, the man was found dead in his New York apartment. Following the autopsy, traces of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and benzodiazepine (a drug used to treat panic attacks were found). Investigations ruled out suicide, supporting the hypothesis of an accidental overdose. “The Hunger Games: Song of Uprising – Part 2” was completed by totally rewriting the scenes that Hoffman had not yet shot.
7. Brandon Lee
Brandon Lee was a rising movie star; son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, he remained famous for his role as Eric Draven in the movie “The Crow”. His disappearance had shocked everyone in the 1990s. During the filming of “The Crow” actor Michael Massee had unloaded a 44 Magnum loaded with blanks towards Lee. The crew were surprised when they saw Lee fall backwards and not forward as it was written. Seeing that the man did not get up, they were all alarmed. Transported to the hospital he had learned that the bullets in the weapon were real. Despite all the efforts of medical personnel to keep him alive, Brandon passed away from his injuries on the night of March 31, 1993. Although it was an accident, Massee has never been able to forgive himself. The film was completed thanks to the intervention of Lee’s stuntman.
8. Bruce Lee
After shooting a very tough scene during the filming of “The Three of the Dragon Operation”, martial arts master Bruce Lee was knocked unconscious under the eyes of the crew. In the hospital they had found a cerebral edema. The treatment had worked, and the actor had returned to work. Some time later, while he was with some colleagues, he complained of a severe headache and took a painkiller. Found unconscious, he had been transported to the hospital, where attempts to revive him had proved unsuccessful. The 32-year-old had had an allergic reaction that affected his brain. The movie “The Three of the Dragon Operation” was rewritten after Lee’s death, to put together the scenes not yet shot by the actor.
9. Cory Monteith
Cory Monteith is best known for his character as Finn Hudson in the musical television series “Glee”. The 31-year-old had just finished filming the fourth series and was already expecting it for the following season, but unfortunately on July 13, 2013 he was found lifeless in a Vancouver hotel room. According to the autopsy results, the man had a dangerous cocktail of alcohol and heroin in his body. Monteith had tried detoxing earlier, but it hadn’t worked. His girlfriend and colleague on “Glee”, Lea Michele (who played Rachel Berry) sang Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” in an episode filmed to honor the memory of her missing boyfriend.
10. Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin achieved international success with the TV show “The Crocodile Hunter” in which he showed viewers how to deal “right” with some dangerous animals in Australia. When the series was canceled following criticism from animal rights groups, the adventurer turned his attention to producing wildlife documentaries. Irwin’s tragic demise occurred on September 4, 2006. While filming underwater for his latest documentary film, “Ocean’s Deadliest”, the 44-year-old was stung in the chest by the venomous sting of a thorny race, which resulted in his being stung in the chest. sudden death. With the live footage of Irwin’s death obviously omitted, “Ocean’s Deadliest” was broadcast on TV in the United States,
11. Natalie Wood
The beautiful Natalie Wood had achieved worldwide success as Maria in the 1961 musical “West Side Story”. She was the wife of actor Robert Wagner and while they were on break from filming, together with her husband and Christopher Walken, the three had headed by yacht to the island of Santa Catalina, not far from Los Angeles. But the actress had never returned from that trip out of town. On November 29, 1981, the 41-year-old’s body was found at sea. The autopsy had revealed scratches and bruises on the body that had opened many doubts about her death. Wagner and Walken had stated that the woman must have probably fallen while the boat was moving and without their noticing. After a couple of years of stoppage, the film “Brainstorm”, in which Wood was engaged before the disappearance, had been terminated thanks to a stunt double for Natalie. The voice had been entrusted to an imitator.
12. Paul Walker
Paul Walker had achieved success in the 2000s. The Californian had become famous for his role as Brian O’Conner in the “Fast & Furious” series of films in which his friend Vin Diesel also worked. In 2010, Walker founded the “Reach Out Worldwide” organization which supported victims of natural disasters. After a charity event, on November 30, 2013, Walker was a passenger in the Porsche Carrera GT of his friend Roger Rodas, a professional driver. While traveling at high speed (160 km / h according to the police report), Rodas had lost control of the car, hit a light pole and the vehicle then crashed into a tree. The flames had engulfed the two men, trapped between the plates. And even though Rodas was traveling at high speed, doubts have been raised about a possible malfunction of the car. “Fast & Furious 7” was only finished thanks to Paul’s brother who had shot the final scenes.
13. Heather O’Rourke
Heather O’Rourke started her acting career at an early age: she was just 4 when she was cast as Carol Ann in Steven Spielberg’s “Poltergeist”. Although she was so small, O’Rourke had won Spielberg that she preferred her to Drew Barrymore. And her expectations were not disappointed, her performance as an actress in the film made history. Unfortunately, O’Rourke had many health difficulties from a very young age, including Crohn’s disease which gave her severe abdominal pain and was treated with cortisone. During the filming of “Poltergeist III” her condition had deteriorated and the little girl had been transported to the hospital. Here she died on February 1, 1988 at the age of 12. “Poltergeist III” it was released in theaters four months after the death of the young actress and was dedicated to her. The final scene had been rewritten, and a replacement had been used.
The legendary singer Aaliyah, previously engaged in film roles, was chosen to play Zee in “The Matrix Reloaded”. Although she was flattered by the attention she received from Hollywood, the woman remained very focused on her musical career. In 2001, Aaliyah and seven other crew members chartered a private jet to Miami after filming the “Rock The Boat” video in the Bahamas. Moments after takeoff, the aircraft had lost altitude and the 22-year-old singer, the rest of the crew and the pilot had lost their lives in the crash. Subsequent investigations determined that the jet had an excess weight of nearly 320 kg. In addition, an autopsy on the body of pilot Luis Morales found traces of cocaine and alcohol. The scenes in which Aaliyah was supposed to appear in “Matrix Reloaded” were later shot by Nona Gaye (daughter of Marvin Gaye). Aaliyah’s appearance was held for the special edition of a DVD made on the film.
15. James Dean
The 24-year-old Hollywood actor and motorcyclist was at the height of his career when he passed away. As the filming of “The Giant” was about to be concluded, the icon of the cinema of the 1950s had died in a tragic accident. Dean was behind the wheel of his Porsche 550 Spyder with his close friend, car mechanic, Rolf Wütherich. Even though it was dark now, Dean still hadn’t turned on the vehicle’s headlights. When they reached a crossroads, a Ford Tudor had turned left and overwhelmed them. Dean had failed to brake, and had crashed into the side of the Ford. Due to the impact, Wütherich was thrown from the car, while Dean was caught between the metal sheets. The two had been taken to hospital, but it was too late for the actor. And even if “The Giant”
16. John Candy
John Candy‘s face will also be known to you, the actor was the protagonist of many comic films including “Blues Brothers” and “Spaceballs”, shot between the seventies and nineties. Although the doctor had recommended him several times to lose weight, the actor had not given up on his extra pounds which, according to him, facilitated him in some roles. And Candy passed away at the age of 43 without being able to see the premiere of the comic western “Wagons East!”, 1994. A special tribute was dedicated to him in the ending of the film.