Brainstorm (1983): Occasionally the passing of a star mid-filming results in the abortion of production. But usually the filmmakers will dream up some clever way to patch the unexpected hole, because, as you know, movies ain’t cheap. When Natalie Wood drowned while shooting Douglas Trumbull’s special effects-heavy sci-fi thriller—and before a major scene—the producers used body doubles to fill the gap.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983): While filming John Landis’ version of the Zone episode “A Quality of Mercy,” Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed when a helicopter flew too low. Landis spent the next year in a legal clusterfuck, while the stitched-together segment gets the hit-or-miss film off to a joyless start.
The Return of the Musketeers (1989): Best known as Veruca Salt’s dad in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory , the rotund, oft-bumbling Roy Kinnear fell off his horse while filming this reunion, sequel to the ’70s Three Musketeers films. Guilt-ridden, director Richard Lester, who cast Kinnear, quit filmmaking altogether.
The Crow (1994): Meeting a fate eerily similar to his father’s, Brandon Lee died on the set of his star vehicle when a bullet accidentally found its way into one of the many guns fired at his character. Only eight days were left in production, yet the effort to rework the film around Lee’s absence added $8 million to the low budget.
Gladiator (2000): Oliver Reed was known as a hard drinker—YouTube “Oliver Reed drunk” sometime—and so it was appropriate that he would die while reportedly intoxicated before finishing this retro-epic. One fit of CGI later and his character was murdered.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): Only in Terry Gilliam’s cursed life could getting three Hollywood hotties to replace the death of the best actor of his generation be dubbed as “finally catching a break.”
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