When it comes to peoples top ten most-desired careers, being a famous actor or actress is almost certainly among them. People are undoubtedly drawn to the fame and money that comes with superstardom, but don’t be tricked into thinking that acting is the perfect career. As these four A-list actors and actresses discovered first hand, acting can be a deadly thing to do…
Actor: Heath Ledger
Filming: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
When: January 2008
Ledger had recently wrapped up filming The Dark Knight, in which his portrayal of the Joker is widely regarded to be one his finest – if not best – performances. Unfortunately, he immersed himself so fully into the role of this twisted criminal that he had trouble sleeping and took prescription drugs to help him rest at night. So despite being a ‘work of art’, his role as the Joker is also blamed by many for his death, when he died from an accidental and gradual overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills and other prescription drugs whilst filming The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus shortly after.
With only a third of the movie filmed, luckily the hallucinatory, dreamlike plot meant that with a few script edits and help from three of Ledger’s actor buddies Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell the film was able to be completed.
Actress: Marilyn Monroe
Filming: Something’s Got to Give
When: August 1962
One of the most famed actresses of all time, renowned beauty Monroe was hired to film comedy Something’s Got to Give, but shooting was doomed right from the start. Having not filmed anything for a year due to gallbladder surgery, Monroe was hoping to make a spectacular comeback but started to delay production significantly – and cause it to go well over budget – when she constantly failed to turn up on the set due to fever, headaches, bronchitis and chronic sinusitis. The script was rewritten daily and Monroe became frustrated at having to constantly memorise new lines.
Eventually, she took one sick day too many and was fired from the film, but co-star Dean Martin refused to continue with another actress so she was re-hired. Unfortunately, before she returned to the set, Monroe died aged just 36 after an overdose – widely believed to be intentional – on barbiturates. The film was never completed and it was not until 2001, on what would have been Monroe’s 75th birthday, that some of the footage was finally aired as part of a documentary entitled Marilyn: The Final Days.
Actor: Oliver Reed
When: May 1999
Cast into Ridley Scott’s epic film Gladiator after a string of more than 60 previous films, Reed was just as known for his partying as he was for his acting. So it was unfortunately little surprise when, after filming most of his scenes, he spent a night out in Malta arm-wrestling with Royal Navy sailors (beating 5 of them at it) and drinking more than three entire bottles of rum, eight bottles of beer and numerous shots of whisky, before dying of a sudden heart attack aged 61.
Rather than abandon production, a massive $3million was spent on CGI to digitally master his face onto a body double to film the final scenes – a good choice, as the film was a massive success, grossing over $187million in the US alone upon release. It was undoubtedly the most successful film of Reed’s entire career, so a great shame that he wasn’t there to witness it!
Actor: Brandon Lee
Filming: The Crow
When: March 1993
When world-famous actor and martial arts expert Bruce Lee died aged just 33 after an allergic reaction to painkillers, wild theories abounded about a supposed curse on him and his family. Or perhaps those theories were not so unfounded after all… two decades later his son Brandon was filming The Crow, a gothic tale in which his character was to be shot along with his fiancée by a gang of thugs.
Unfortunately, a real bullet was lodged in the barrel of the gun that was supposed to be used to shoot dummy cartridges, so that when fellow actor Michael Massee fired at Lee, the real bullet shot through his abdomen and lodged in his spine. Following an unsuccessful 6 hour operation to remove the bullet, Lee eventually died and the film was completed using a body double and some high-tech CGI to give him Lee’s face. The film was a huge success, grossing over $50million dollars in the US and gaining cult status due to the mystery surrounding Lee’s death.
These are just four of the many, many actors and actresses who have died whilst filming, not to mention the numerous stunts people, camera operators and other crew members who have all met with untimely deaths on the film set. So, do you still want to be an actor?
Estelle Page writes for Traders Warehouse, one of the leading online retailers of CCTV systems for home or business use. If you’re an aspiring actor on a budget – and this article hasn’t put you off – why not buy a CCTV kit and film your own Paranormal Activity style CCTV horror film!