We were all stunned when we learned that Paul Walker, star of Fast and the Furious series, died in a car accident. Producers of the franchise not only lost a collaborator and friend, but also the chance to finish the new project, Fast and the Furious 7, scheduled to appear next summer. It was not long until the studios have announced that, although the production was half finished, it is necessary to start from scratch because some sequences were crucial to the story. Below are other ten cases in which the main actors died during filming.
1. Brandon Lee
He died in March 1993 while filming a scene for The Crow. A piece of metal caught in a gun that was firing blanks pieced his abdomen and the actor died later that day. With almost all the scenes shot with the main character, director Alex Proyas didn’t have a difficult time in finishing the production, which became a hit, collecting an amount five times the budget.
2. Bela Lugosi
Famous for his portrayal of Dracula both on stage and on screen, Bela Lugosi died in 1956 while filming Plan 9 from Outer Space. He did not play the lead, but we include him in this list because of director’s Edward D. Wood solution: Wood did not film again Bela Lugosi’s scenes nor sought an actor to look like, but simply asked his family’s chiropractor to take the part.
3. River Phoenix
It was said that after the successes of My Own Private Idaho and Stand by Me, he will be the next big star, but the actor died of drug abuse at only 23, in 1993. The tragedy occurred while Phoenix (he was the brother of Joaquin Phoenix) was shooting Dark Blood, a drama directed by George Sluizer and completely doomed by the loss of its protagonist. The film was released only in 2012, the director found a solution to complete Phoenix’s vital scenes: reading aloud excerpts from unfilmed scenario.
4. Marilyn Monroe
She died on August 2, 1962, during the filming of Something’s Got to Give. The production had already been delayed, with Monroe having been fired because she could not concentrate on set. She is rehired thanks to director George Cukor and her partner Dean Martin. Although the producers chose a replacement for Monroe, Dean Martin refused to change partners, his contract gave him the right to cease production. The nine hours of film sat in the Fox warehouses for almost four decades, a montage of 37 minutes being included in the documentary Marilyn: The Final Days in 2001 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Monroe’s birth.
5. Heath Ledger
Soon after he finished filming The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger is found dead in his apartment. The actor had already begun filming Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Many have said that the project had no chance to be finished, but Gilliam modified the script and used fantasy elements to replace Ledger with his good friends Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell. Mission accomplished.
6. Martha Mansfield
In 1923, Hollywood productions were not filmed in the safest conditions. On the set of the film The Warrens of Virginia, there was a terrible accident after which Martha Mansfield, aged only 24, died. A technician accidentally threw a match in her direction after he lit a cigarette and the actress’ dress caught fire. Mansfield died shortly after from burns.
7. Jon – Erik Hexum
On October 12, 1984, actor Jon – Erik Hexum was bored on the set of the show Cover Up. The delay was for a scene where Hexum’s character had to load blanks into a gun. Hexum began to play with the gun and mimicked a game of Russian roulette, removing all bullets except one. Nobody told Hexum what it was dangerous. He placed the gun on the temple and fired. The blind bullet did not penetrate his skull, but fractured it. The actor was rushed to a hospital where doctors made every effort to repair the fractured skull, but after six days he was pronounced brain dead.
8. Tommy Cooper
In 1984, British actor and comedian Tommy Cooper was at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, where they broadcast live on television a comedy show. In the middle of the broadcast, the comedian suffered a heart attack and collapsed. The crowd continued to laugh while he died, believing that it was part of the show.
Cooper’s colleagues continued without him and finished the show, proving that Freddie Mercury once uttered a great truth: The show must go on.
Moliere’s death is an exception because it took place on a theater stage. In 1673, the famous French playwright has died following a violent burst of coughing. The irony is that his death occurred while playing the lead role in his play “The Imagined Invalid”.
10. Vic Morrow, Mycale Dinh Le, Renee Shin – Yi Chen
During the filming of the Twilight Zone, actor Vic Morrow and colleagues Mycale Dinh Le (age 7) and Renee Shin- Yi Chen (age 6) died in an accident involving a helicopter.
The helicopter was hovering just 8 meters from the ground, too low an altitude to avoid the pyrotechnical controlled explosion. When this occurred, the pilot lost control of the machinery and it crashed. The three actors were hit by the propeller blades and Morrow and Dinh Le were decapitated.