The List: From beyond the grave: 11 great posthumous performances

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

This weekend’s release of “Furious 7” will be bittersweet for fans of the late Paul Walker, who died in a car crash while the film was still in production. Here are some great examples of films that were released after the death of their actors or directors.

James Gandolfini in “Enough Said” and “The Drop”

Gandolfini will always be known as Tony Soprano, but the late actor got accolades for his last performances, especially Nicole Holofcener’s “Enough Said.”

Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” and “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”

Ledger’s Joker may be the most indelible performance by an actor who had died by the time of the film’s release. His role in Terry Gilliam’s “Doctor Parnassus” was finished by three other actors (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell).

Adrienne Shelly’s “Waitress”

The actress directed and co-starred in this well-received indie starring Keri Russell, which came out after the actress was murdered in 2006.

John Ritter in “Bad Santa”

The “Three’s Company” actor was stellar as an uptight department story manager in this brilliant 2003 black comedy. Co-star Bernie Mack died just five years later.

Richard Harris in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

The great British actor seemed irreplaceable as Harry’s kindly mentor Professor Dumbledore. Michael Gambon filled in admirably for the rest of the series, but the role will always belong to Harris.

Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut”

Perhaps film’s most notorious perfectionist, Kubrick was deep in post-production of his last film at the time of his death.

Jack Nance in “Lost Highway”

A longtime David Lynch collaborator (since first playing Henry Spencer in “Eraserhead”), Nance worked with Lynch right up to his death after an altercation outside a donut shop.

Tupac Shakur in “Gridlock’d”

Before the rapper was gunned down at the age of 25, he was in the early stages of a promising acting career, most notably showcased in this movie about two recovering heroin addicts.

Brandon Lee in “The Crow”

The young actor was set to follow in the footsteps of his father, Bruce Lee, but he tragically died after a freak accident on-set during filming. (Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon” and “Game of Death” also came out after his death.)

Spencer Tracy in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

Filming of Tracy’s portrayal of the white patriarch coming to terms with his own racial opinions when his daughter brings home a black doctor ended just 17 days before the actor died.

James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant”

Dean became an icon upon his death in a car accident at the age of 24. Two of the three movies he filmed in his short career were released afterward.