Celebrities Who Died During Production
Paul Walker‘s untimely death has left Hollywood reeling. As family, friends, fans and fellow actors mourn the actor’s sudden passing, many are left wondering about the future of the ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise, in which Walker played a crucial role. Unfortunately, Walker has not been the only actor to die prematurely while working on a movie or TV show. Read on to learn more about Paul Walker and other actors who passed away during production.
Before his death in a blazing car crash over Thanksgiving weekend 2013, Walker had completed most of his scenes as Brian O’ Conner in ‘Fast and The Furious 7.’ Though production has been halted following the tragedy, director James Wan says that the film will be completed.
Heath Ledger had completed only one-third of the filming of ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ when he of died of accidental drug overdose in 2008. After his unexpected death, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in to play transformations of Ledger’s character, Tony.
After Cory Monteith‘s unexpected death from an accidental overdose in July 2013, his ‘Glee‘ family was stunned, and production of the fifth season was temporarily halted. The show soon honored Monteith and his character Finn in ‘The Quarterback,’ a touching tribute to Finn that included a heart-wrenching performance of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ by Monteith’s ‘Glee’ co-star (and real-life girlfriend) Lea Michele.
Lee Thompson Young
29-year-old Lee Thompson Young, who was perhaps most well-known for his role as ‘The Famous Jett Jackson,’ tragically committed suicide in August 2013. At the time of his death, Young had been portraying Detective Barry Frost on the TNT drama ‘Rizzoli & Isles.’ When he failed to show up to work on August 19, he was sadly found dead in his home.
John Ritter, who rose to fame as Jack Tripper on the classic ’70s sitcom ‘Three’s Company,’ was starring in ABC’s ’8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter’ when he suddenly died from an undiagnosed heart problem in 2003. The cast and crew of the show were devastated by Ritter’s sudden passing, and after a two-month hiatus, built his character’s death into the show in an incredibly moving, hour-long tribute episode called ‘Goodbye.’
Heather O’ Rourke
Child actress Heather O’ Rourke, who was most famous for her role as the young Carole Anne Freeling in the ‘Poltergiest’ films, died at the tender age of 12 from cardiac arrest and septic shock due to a small-bowel obstruction. O’ Rourke died four months before the release of ‘Poltergeist III,’ and the final film was dedicated to her memory. Strangely, in addition to O’ Rourke, three other ‘Poltergeist’ actors have died between the filming of the first and third film, leading many to believe there is a curse surrounding the trilogy — a rumor sparked by the fact that the first two movies allegedly used real skeletons as props.
Marcia Wallace is lovingly remembered as Mrs. Krabappel, Bart’s sarcastic teacher on ‘The Simpsons’ — a role she played for 24 years. When she died from pneumonia complications this in October 2013, Wallace had already recorded lines for several upcoming ‘Simpsons’ episodes for the season. Following her death, ‘The Simpsons’ has paid tribute to Wallace and has plans to air her final episode at the end of its current season or the beginning of its next. After that, executive producer Al Jean says they will retire Wallace’s “irreplaceable” Mrs. Krabappel from the show.
In 2006, beloved ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin was tragically killed after being pierced in the heart by a stingray. Irwin was filming footage for an upcoming documentary he was making with his young daughter, Bindi, when the ray stung him in the chest. With the camera still rolling, Irwin managed to pull out the stingray’s barb but did not survive the attack, which was tragically caught on film.
In 2001, pop star and actress Aaliyah died in a horrific plane crash while flying home from shooting a music video. Before she died, Aaliyah had already completed filming for her starring role in ‘The Queen of the Damned,’ though her brother smoothed out some of her lines in post-production. At the time of her death, Aaliyah had already filmed some scenes as Zee in ‘The Matrix: Reloaded,’ a role which eventually was recast with Nona Gaye. Aaliyah was also reportedly signed on to star in ‘Honey’ and ‘Sparkle.’
Lovable comedian John Candy died of a heart attack while on location in Mexico in 1994. Candy had just wrapped the final scene of the Western parody ‘Wagons East!’ when he suffered a heart attack in his hotel room. Before he died, Candy had recorded much of the dialogue for talking turkey sidekick Redfeather in ‘Pocahontas,’ but the role was cut after his death.
River Phoenix’s tragic death at the age of 23, due to a deadly combination of cocaine and heroin, left Hollywood stunned. In 1993, the year he died, Phoenix had already filmed the majority of ‘Dark Blood,’ which was set to be his next film. While some crucial scenes had yet to be filmed, ‘Dark Blood’ director George Sluizer refused to recast the role or use special effects to complete the movie. 20 years later, ‘Dark Blood’ finally made its premiere at the Miami International Film Festival in May 2013.
‘Tommy Boy’ actor and ‘SNL’ alum Chris Farley was originally cast as Shrek — and had recorded 90% of the dialogue — when he died from an accidental drug overdose in 1997. His work on the film had been praised by his co-workers, but ultimately, when the film was re-worked, the role of the larger-than-life green ogre went to Mike Myers.