Sometimes in movies, a character dies, and sometimes in real life, it's the actor whose life comes to an unexpected end. Such was the case for Anton Yelchin, who's best remembered in his role as Chekov in the last three "Star Trek" films. In 2017, the actor was crushed to death when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down an incline, slamming into Anton and pinning him to his security gate after he'd gotten out of the vehicle. Before his sudden death, Anton had wrapped several movies, including the thriller "Thoroughbreds," which debuts in theaters on March 9, 2018. In the film, Anton (seen here with co-star Anya Taylor-Joy) plays Tim, a disturbed young man who's pulled into a dark and deadly plot by two teenage girls. In honor of Anton, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at the last films made by celebrities who died unexpectedly. Keep reading for more…
On Jan. 22, 2008, Australian actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment from an apparent accidental overdose of prescription medications. At the time of his death, the 28-year-old star had been filming the fantasy adventure "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" and his sudden passing left the future of the film uncertain. Thankfully, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law stepped in to play the same role, which allowed the scenes Heath had already filmed to be included. Almost two years from the date of Heath's passing, the film was released in the U.S. to rave reviews.
While flying from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23, 2016, legendary actress Carrie Fisher suffered a cardiac arrest that would eventually lead to her death four days later on Dec. 27. The actress, who was best known as Princess Leia from the "Star Wars" franchise, had reprised the role for the 2017 sequel "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." Thankfully for her fans, Carrie had already completed filming shortly before her shocking death. At the end of the film's credits, a dedication was made to the star: "In loving memory of our princess, Carrie Fisher."
On Feb. 2, 2014, Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of acute mixed drug intoxication after he accidentally overdosed while shooting heroin. His death coincided with the filming of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2." While most of his scenes as Plutarch Heavensbee were already completed, there were still a few key scenes that hadn't yet been filmed and required scriptwriters to tweak them, ultimately causing the movie to deviate from the original storyline. Instead of the heartfelt one-on-one scene he would have shared with Jennifer Lawrence's character, Katniss Everdeen, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) read a letter left by Plutarch, which was considered less emotionally stirring.
On Feb. 11, 2012, one of the world's most gifted singers, Whitney Houston, died from a combination of drug intoxication and accidental drowning in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel during Grammy weekend. A few months prior to Whitney's passing, she'd wrapped her final movie, "Sparkle," in which she played Emma, a mother of three girls from Harlem who were determined to make it big as singers. The day after her death, she was honored at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards by numerous stars including Jennifer Hudson, who sang a moving rendition of Whitney's hit "I Will Always Love You."
Alan Rickman, who most of us know best as Professor Snape from the "Harry Potter" film franchise, died from pancreatic cancer on Jan. 14, 2016. Although he'd learned about his disease in 2015 after suffering a minor stroke, he chose to keep the diagnosis private, only telling those closest to him. Shortly before his death, Alan filmed his last on-screen performance: Lt. General Frank Benson in the war drama "Eye in the Sky." Alan's co-star, Helen Mirren, said that the actor would have been proud of his final film, which was released two and a half months after his passing.
On Aug. 9, 2008, comedian Bernie Mac (right) died from complications of pneumonia. The 50-year-old star had just wrapped his final on-screen performance in the comedy "Old Dogs" alongside Robin Williams (left) and John Travolta (center). His death was a huge shock to his fans, family and friends and caused the release of the film to be pushed back so fans and co-stars could have time to mourn. Sadly, six years after Bernie's death, another star from "Old Dogs" would also pass away…
On Aug. 11, 2014, Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams, one of the most beloved comedians on the big screen, committed suicide in his Tiburon, California, home. The actor had been struggling with his health — an autopsy later revealed he had a severe case of Lewy body dementia, which causes hallucinations, paranoia and confusion (its symptoms mirror those of Parkinson's disease) and cannot be diagnosed until after death. Robin had completed several movies before hanging himself. His last on-screen performance would be in "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," in which he reprised his role as Teddy Roosevelt alongside Ben Stiller (center).
Aaliyah was a top pop and R&B performer who was on track to become Hollywood's next big thing. The talented singer's life was cut short, however, on Aug. 25, 2001, when her twin engine Cessna crashed shortly after taking off in the Bahamas, killing all eight on board. The 22 year old had just wrapped her second movie, "Queen of the Damned," in which she had the title role as Queen Akasha, the mother of all vampires.
When Paul Walker died along with his friend, Roger Rudas, in a fiery car crash on Nov. 30, 2013, he was only two months into filming "Furious 7." While fans, family and co-stars mourned his death, the production team also had to find a way to finish the movie while keeping Paul's role intact. They used CGI technology to put old frames of Paul in new scenes and asked Paul's brothers Caleb and Cody (who eerily looks a lot like his late sibling) to film scenes as his body double, which allowed the movie to be completed. It premiered a year and five months after his death.
Former "Big Love" star Bill Paxton sadly passed away on Feb. 25, 2017, after having a stroke shortly after undergoing heart surgery. Not long before his death, he filmed a small role in the indie sci-fi thriller "The Circle" alongside Emma Watson (left) and Glenne Headly (right). The film, about the scary turn social media can take when it knows everything about its users, wasn't as horrifying as the fact that another actor in the film died unexpectedly the same year…
Glenne Headly (center), who was also in "The Circle," died not long after Bill Paxton on June 8, 2017, from a pulmonary embolism. The 62-year-old actress had just wrapped the Hulu series "Futureman" as well as the films "Just Getting Started" (seen here) and the comedy "Making Babies," which is due in theaters sometime in 2018.
Rapper, songwriter and actor Tupac Shakur died from gunshot wounds on Sept. 13, 1996, not long after he wrapped filming on his final movie, "Gang Related" co-starring Jim Belushi. A year after Tupac's death, Jim shared with the Los Angeles Times that the first time he met the rap music legend, they almost came to blows. Tupac had shown up late for two rehearsals and was a no-show for a third, which caused Jim to tell him, "If you come late tomorrow, you might as well not show up." The actor shared that the men had "the most beautiful fight" which led to a handshake and a friendship that made them feel like "brothers."
The accidental death of Brandon Lee on March 31, 1993, while filming a shoot-out scene for "The Crow" has gone down as one of the most horrific mistakes ever committed on a movie set. Toward the end of production, Brandon was filming a scene in which his character, Eric, is shot by home invaders, which would be the catalyst for him to turn into the vengeful supernatural star of the film. But a fragment from an old dummy bullet was lodged in the chamber of the gun used in the scene, so even though it fired a blank, the fragment came out with it and pierced Brandon's abdomen, puncturing his aorta, which ultimately killed the rising star. Though visual effects were nowhere near as good as they are today, a VFX company still managed to complete seven scenes using over-the-shoulder shots and superimposed images of Brandon, allowing filmmakers to finish the movie and honor Brandon's memory.
On Halloween night in 1993, one of Hollywood's hottest young actors, River Phoenix, died after collapsing in front of the Viper Room, a popular nightclub once owned by fellow actor and friend Johnny Depp. That night, while partying with brother Joaquin Phoenix, Johnny and several other friends, 23-year-old River reportedly ingested a liquid speedball of heroin and cocaine that he chased with Valium. At the time, River's last completed movie, "The Thing Called Love" (seen here), was in theaters and River was in the middle of filming his final film, the thriller "Dark Blood," which wouldn't be released until 2012.
On Nov. 29, 1981, Natalie Wood drowned in the waters off California's Santa Catalina Island near the yacht she'd been staying on with her husband, Robert Wagner, and her "Brainstorm" co-star, Christopher Walken (left). At the time of her death — which was initially ruled accidental, though the case was later reopened and Robert was named a person of interest — Natalie had just completed her scenes for "Brainstorm," a sci-fi thriller about a husband-and-wife research team that uncovers a way to upload one person's consciousness into another person's brain. However, director Douglas Trumbull later said that finishing the movie after Natalie's death "became the most difficult thing" he'd experienced. It was finally released nearly two years after her passing.
When rising young star James Dean died on Sept. 30, 1955, at age 24, he'd only lived to see one of his three films debut on the big screen, leaving two more to premiere posthumously. The actor, who died from injuries sustained in a high-speed automobile accident, became a cult figure in cinema after his death. His final film, "Giant" co-starring Elizabeth Taylor, was a 1956 western about a wealthy cattle rancher in Texas. It earned the late actor his second Academy Award nomination.
Another iconic Hollywood star who died too soon was Marilyn Monroe, who was killed by an overdose of barbiturates on Aug. 5, 1962. The last completed film the blonde bombshell starred in was the 1961 romantic western "The Misfits" (seen here), but just two months before her death, Marilyn had been fired from the cast of "Something's Got to Give" for missing 17 days of production. The film was shelved after her death but in 2001, the footage was released as a mini-film on what would have been Marilyn's 75th birthday.
Less than three months after former "Saturday Night Live" star John Belushi's final film, "Neighbors," was released in theaters, the comedic actor was dead from an accidental heroin overdose on March 5, 1982, at age 33. The movie, co-starring John's best friend and frequent film sidekick Dan Aykroyd (left), was about annoying neighbors moving in and making one man's life hell. It was later remade in 2014 with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne.
On Dec. 18, 1997, former "Saturday Night Live" star Chris Farley died of drug overdose at 33 (the same age as John Belushi, who overdosed 15 years earlier). At the time of his death, Chris had three movies in the works. His final credited film was the 1998 comedy "Almost Heroes" co-starring Matthew Perry (right), which told the tale of two adventurers in 1804 who are trying (and failing) to beat famed explorers Lewis and Clark. Interestingly, Chris had also signed on to be the voice of Shrek in the animated classic that would later feature Mike Myers in the title role.
On March 4, 1994, comedic actor John Candy died from a heart attack at 43. Before his passing, John completed two movies that were both later dedicated to his memory. His final film, "Canadian Bacon," co-starred Rhea Perlman (left) in a story about an unpopular American president who attempts to improve his likability by starting a cold war with Canada.
Although Heather O'Rourke made appearances in several TV movies and TV shows, it was her role as Carol Anne in "Poltergeist" that made her a household name. On Feb. 1, 1988, 12-year-old Heather died from cardiac arrest after her body became septic from an undiagnosed intestinal obstruction. The young actress had finished filming "Poltergeist III" in June 1987. The final installment of the horror franchise was released a year later, less than four months after her death, on June 10, 1988. Her passing has long fueled rumors that the stars of the movie are cursed.
Just a month before '60s bombshell Jayne Mansfield, boyfriend Sam Brody and their driver died in a horrific automobile accident with a semi truck, she appeared in the romantic comedy "A Guide for the Married Man" alongside Terry Thomas (left). The film, about a man who attempts to teach his colleague how to successfully have an affair without being caught, wasn't Jayne's biggest accomplishment. Rather, it was the legacy of her death that required all semis to have a DOT bar (also known as a Mansfield bar), which prevents vehicles from jamming underneath semis in the event of an accident. Miraculously, Jayne's three children who were in the car with her on that fateful night — including her famous daughter, actress Mariska Hargitay — survived the accident.
On June 7, 1937, Jean Harlow, one of the most popular actresses of the golden era of cinema, died at the tender age of 26 due to renal failure. At the time of her death, Jean was a few scenes short of completing her final movie, "Saratoga," a story about a wealthy horse breeder's daughter who falls hopelessly in love with a debt-ridden gambler. Co-starring Clark Gable and William Pigeon (seen here), the director was forced to use a stand-in for Jean's final few scenes in order to finish the film before its release six weeks after her death.
Another former "Saturday Night Live" star who died unexpectedly was Phil Hartman, who was shot by his wife, Brynn Hartman (who later committed suicide), on May 28, 1998. Before his murder, Phil finished making the comedy "Small Soldiers," a movie about action figures that have military-grade programming, allowing them to come to life and enact a real-life battle. At the time of his death at age 49, Phil was also the voice of several characters on "The Simpsons," including Bill Clinton and Troy McClure.