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Popular Film Franchises & How They Dealt With Major Actors Deaths

A huge production faces many challenges through the course of making a movie, and these troubles can be a lot more for franchises – longer the series, more the problems. They can be as small as a costume failure to something as large and uncontrollable as the death of an important cast member. Several huge franchises have had to face this but they had to go on. Every filmmaker has their way of dealing with the loss, and some do it better than others. Check out how certain popular franchises dealt with major deaths.

Harry Potter – Richard Harris

Dumbledore
Richard Harris as Dumbledore

Richard Harris played Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise. His sudden demise after the completion of the second movie of the franchise was devastating. Dumbledore is a major character of the series and there were 6 movies still left to be made. Warner Bros. needed to recast and they picked Michael Gambon to take over. Michael Gambon did an excellent job of portraying the character.

The Matrix – Gloria Foster

Gloria
Gloria Foster as The Oracle

The Matrix franchise had Gloria Foster playing the Oracle in the first two movies. But the actor sadly passed away in 2001 after the second movie was complete. The Oracle was needed for the final movie of the trilogy. The Wachowski Sisters decided to recast and picked Mary Alice to play the part. The sisters smartly explained the change in the looks of the Oracle in the plot.

The Dark Knight Trilogy – Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger as the Joker

The remarkable performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker in the Dark Night. But the actor tragically passed away while the movie was still on the editing table. Heath Ledger had already completed his principal photography work as the Joker. There would’ve been a possibility that Christopher Nolan needed the actor if he had been alive. The director claimed that every clip that was included in the finished movie was the work of Heath Ledger only. 

Fast and Furious – Paul Walker

Paul Walker
Paul Walker in Fast and Furious

Paul Walker was one of the leads in the Fast and Furious franchise. The actor had been a part of five of the six movies that were released and died in a car crash in the middle of the shooting of the 7th film. Many important scenes were still to be shot. The filmmakers decided to use a CGI technique. They used the actor’s brothers, Cody and Caleb, as his body doubles and created a 3D image of his face and placed it over their face. 

Star Wars – Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing in Star War movie
Peter Cushing in Star Wars

The Star Wars franchise too used the CGI technique to bring back to life Peter Cushing. He played Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope (1977). The actor passed away in 1994. He was brought back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story using a body double and CGI. Actor Guy Henry acted in the scenes as closely as he could like Cushing’s Tarkin. ILM found a plaster cast of the actor’s face and used it as a reference to recreate his face as closely as possible.

Written by Gargi Mishra

I am Gargi Mishra, an aspiring filmmaker. I look at the world through the viewfinder and love to study films. Write them and write about them.