Thanks to technological advances, the magic of cinema was able to “resurrect” several stars who could not finish their films.
The magic of cinema that ability to recreate fictional realities and make viewers dream of other worlds, has existed since the first films were screened at the end of the 19th century. As the seventh art has developed and has drawn on the latest technological advances, that magic has exceeded any expected limits. And the proof is in this list.
Only the cinema is capable of resuscitating deceased actors and introducing them into the plot so it seems that they are still with us. First one of them was Brandon Lee, the young actor who was killed by an accidental shot on the set of The Raven. There were very few scenes left to shoot and the team decided to go ahead by adding his face to the body of his doppelganger using CGI technology.
Many more have come after him. It’s a tough decision for the studio, which faces the dilemma of moving forward without one of its members. It would have been perfect to have Carrie Fisher in The Rise of Skywalker or Paul Walker in Fast & Furious 7, but their tragic deaths served to make them a beautiful tribute on screen. Here we collect 7 deceased actors who were resurrected on screen.
Paul Walker – ‘Fast & Furious 7’
Paul Walker he lost his life in a fatal traffic accident in November 2013, when he was just 40 years old. His tragic loss occurred in full production of Fast & Furious 7. The director, James Wan, and the film’s producers were deeply affected, and they came to raise the idea of canceling this seventh installment of the franchise. Without Walker, or what is the same without Brian O’Conner, the saga lost part of its essence, and that did not finish convincing them.
However, after several meetings they changed their minds and considered that the best way to pay tribute to the actor was to go ahead with the project. To do this, they not only had to rewrite the end of this episode of the automobile franchise, but also produce an additional 350 shots to help shape Walker’s scenes. Of them, 90 were created thanks to the actor’s shots that had been discarded of that and other installments of the saga. For the 260 others you take the team had to turn to the interpreter’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, with whom he shared an enormous resemblance. In these scenes, Caleb and Cody’s faces were replaced during post-production by images from Walker recreated with CGI.
As Weta visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri explained to The Hollywood Reporter, to carry out this process they first thought of using the scanned faces of Caleb and Cody as a point of reference; but finally they opted for the idea of taking images that they already had of the actor, because they were more realistic. Another challenge the team faced in post-production was the scenes that included dialogue. In them, the sound editors had to resort to the actor’s dialogues in previous installments. As a result, the franchise was able to write the perfect ending for O’Conner.
Philip Seymour Hoffman – ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’
Another actor who died in the middle of a film production was Philip Seymour Hoffman. The interpreter was found dead in his apartment, in February 2014, in the middle of filming the last two installments of The Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2. Seymour’s character, Plutarch Heavensbee, was one of the most important in the franchise, and although at the time of his death he had already shot most of his scenes in both films, I had pending the filming of one of the most important moments in the outcome of the saga.
Despite this, director Francis Lawrence I did not see fit to recreate the scene recreating the actor using CGI. The director decided that the best option was to make some variation in the script, to preserve all the essence of Seymour Hoffman. “I think he was one of the best actors of all time and I think trying to fake a Philip Seymour Hoffman performance would have been catastrophic and I would never want to do that. I think this was the best way to get around something so horrible,” he explained Lawrence in an interview with HuffPost.
So for the scene in which Plutarch Heavensbee was to have a conversation with the franchise’s protagonist, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the filmmaker decided to translate Plutarch’s words into a letter, to be read by Katniss herself.
Oliver Reed – ‘Gladiator’
The filming of Gladiator also suffered the collateral damage of losing one of its lead actors. The actor Oliver Reed died of a heart attack, at the age of 61, during one of his nights out, after finishing one of his working days on the Ridley Scott film. Although production on the film was drawing to a close, Reed had several scenes pending at the time of his death.
Back then, in the late 1990s, the CGI technique had yet to be perfected. Therefore, to reduce the appearance of Proximo -ex gladiator and mentor of Máximo (Russell Crowe), the character of Reed, the screenwriters John Logan and William Nicholson had to make some changes to the script. Still, there was two scenes that it was impossible to do without Proximo, if you didn’t want to lose the thread of the story.
One of the two scenes of Proximo filmed after Reed’s death is the one in which he goes to visit Máximo, when he is imprisoned. A substitute actor was in charge of replacing the actor during the sequence. Subsequently, special effects company The Mill, used discarded footage of Reed to digitally insert his face into his surrogate’s body. To facilitate the process, the scene was shot in the shade, with Proximo’s face between the prison bars. The second moment that had to be filmed without the presence of the interpreter, is in which he allows himself to be killed by the Praetorian Guard so that Máximo can flee. To film it, a substitute was also used, filmed from the back. An earlier Reed scene was digitally inserted in post-production. A process that cost a whopping 3.2 million dollars.
Peter Cushing – ‘Rogue One’
Rogue One, the first ‘spin off’ of Star Wars, ends with a scene that is impossible not to get excited. Darth Vader swooping in on the star cruiser Depth as the rebels escape with the Death Star plans to deliver them to a young Leia Organa. When the movie was shot, Carrie Fisher She was already in her 60s, so she could hardly have gotten into the shoes of the 19-year-old princess we saw in A New Hope. Having this scene was possible thanks to innovative rejuvenation techniques and the work of Ingvild Deila, the actress who lent her body for the incredible magic trick.
It was the same thing that made it possible to bring back Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin. Fans were stunned when they saw the admiral himself resurface on screen, like we traveled straight to 1977. How is it possible if he passed away in 1994 at 81 years of age?
All this was possible gracias a Industrial Light & Magic, the studio that has been transforming cinema for decades. Thanks to a mix of digital animation, capture technology and live actors that replaced the original interpreters, we were able to see these two iconic characters once again. If special effects aren’t good for something like that, why else?
Carrie Fisher – ‘Star Wars: El ascenso de Skywalker’
In a series of tragic coincidences, that same technique that they developed to Rogue One served to bring back Carrie Fisher after she died of a heart attack. Fisher died in December 2016, a few months after filming for Star Wars: The Last Jedi had ended. This would be his last film in the saga that brought him to fame, but for LucasFilm it was impossible to close the Skywalker plot without having Leia Organa.
With much respect and as a tribute, they decided fall back on unused footage from the recording from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi to bring her back. The presence of the character is almost anecdotal, but he is strong enough to dismiss the great figure of Star Wars as he deserves.
Brandon Lee – ‘The Raven’
In one of the darkest episodes in the Hollywood industry, Brandon Lee passed away during the filming of The Raven after being accidentally shot. The actor was immediately taken to the hospital, without being able to do anything for him.
The production then faced a great dilemma: continue or not with the movie. Lee had completed much of his scenes when he passed away and had only three days left to finish. Paramount Pictures got off the project, but Miramax picked it up and gave them $ 8 million to finish the tape. In this way, they were able to rewrite the missing scenes to adapt them to the new situation. Brandon Lee’s stuntman, Chad Stahelski, recorded the missing parts and subsequently inserted the deceased actor’s face using CGI. Thus he became the first performer to be recreated with special effects after he died.
Marlon Brando – ‘Superman Returns’
Marlon Brando reverted to being Jor-El, Superman’s father, two years after his death. The actor had died in 2004, but for the creators of the new installment it was important to have his figure. The solution? Pull from old scenes and special effects.
As soon as Warner Bros. obtained permission to include Brando’s image in Superman Returns, director Bryan Singer got down to business planning his return. They turned to unused footage of their previous work on the series, and with a touch of CGI technology, Superman’s father came to life. Perhaps today it is more common to see actors resuscitate on screen, but in 2006 it was quite an event. The team also included the face in a crystalline structure of the Fortress, very intelligently hiding possible computer failures.
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7 deceased actors who were resurrected on screen