Film franchises that continued without their stars

Star Wars, Fast & Furious, and Harry Potter have all faced untimely character exits.  (Disney/Universal/Warner Bros.)

Star Wars, Fast & Furious, and Harry Potter have all faced untimely character exits. (Disney/Universal/Warner Bros.)

Recently, Hollywood had to say a poignant farewell. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (in theaters November 11) is the sequel to Black Panther story, but without the main character.

Chadwick Boseman’s death in 2020 left filmmaker Ryan Coogler with an impossible decision for Marvel’s sequel: either recast the role that was so inextricably tied to the late star, or loosely mirror his character T’Challa’s fate with the real one. life. The latter has been chosen and a new generation will carry on his legacy.

Many productions have faced the tragedy of a star’s death halfway through production. However, in modern Hollywood, where franchises are planned several movies in advance, sometimes a star walks away with part of their character’s story to tell.

Read more: Black Panther stars visited Chadwick Boseman’s grave for ‘blessing’

Here are some of the ways a beloved character’s path was decided in some of the biggest movie series.


Richard Harris (L) played Dumbledore twice, before Michel Gambon took over the role in Harry Potter.  (Warner Bros.)

Richard Harris (L) played Dumbledore twice, before Michel Gambon took over the role in Harry Potter. (Warner Bros.)

Used in: Harry PotterToy Story, The Raven

One of the greatest examples of a franchise that lost an important star early in its life was the Harry Potter film series. Legendary actor Richard Harris was cast as Professor Dumbledore in the first two installments, The Philosopher’s Stone (2001) and The Chamber of Secrets (2002), but died at the end of 2002 after a short illness. Harris’ friend Peter O’Toole was considered as his replacement before Michael Gambon was eventually cast in the remaining films. Under these circumstances, the change was a success, with Gambon becoming a beloved part of the series.

Read more: Tributes pour in for Robbie Coltrane

Another successful overhaul took place in the toy story universe, where voice actor Blake Clark took over the role of Slinky Dog after the death of Jim Varney. However, it didn’t always work.

1996 The Raven: City of Angels cast Vincent Perez as the new lead after Brandon Lee’s death in the original film, but the association with the late actor meant that this follow-up didn’t do as well at the box office.


Leia wields a lightsaber in a flashback scene during

Carrie Fisher’s Leia wields a lightsaber in a flashback scene during Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

Used in: Star Wars, Toy Story

Filmmaking technology has advanced to the point where even actors who are no longer with us can be recreated using a mixture of computer footage and old footage. The most notable example was star warsbecause the space opera has brought back not one but two former stars for a last salute.

Read more: The Star Wars CGI Guru on the Ethics of Bringing Peter Cushing Back

2016 A thug took place just before the events of 1977 A new hope, meaning the characters and settings had to be faithful to the original 1977 film. In this case, that meant bringing back Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, 22 years after the British star’s death. Archive footage of Cushing was referenced to create an image of Cushing, which was posed over a motion capture performance by actor Guy Henry.

Star Wars CGI Guru Talks Ethics to Bring Peter Cushing Back to Life in Rogue One

Peter Cushing returned as Moff Tarkin via CGI. (Lucas film)

The reaction was positive, but sadly that wasn’t the last time an actor from the original trilogy was set to be recreated on film. Carrie Fisher, known to millions as Leia Organa, died in 2016 before beginning production on The Rise of Skywalker.

So when the film was released in 2019, fans saw one final appearance of Leia thanks to unused footage Fisher filmed for the force awakens (2015). Another scene featured a young Leia, thanks to an aging CGI Leia superimposed over a physical performance by Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd.

380391 04: Veteran comedian Don Rickles holds a

Don Rickles holds a ‘Mr. Potato Head’ doll during a ceremony where he received a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 17, 2000. (Newsmakers)

For 2019 toy story 4Pixar has plundered the vocal booth archives to create an all-new performance for Mr Potato Head from 20 years of Don Rickles vocal sessions following the actor’s death in 2017. Using excerpts from the late comedian’s sessions for d ‘others toy story movies, shorts, theme parks, toys and other projects, they have reenacted the value of a movie of scenes with compelling effect.


Paul Walker in <i>Fast and Furious 7</i> (Universal Pictures)” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/”/><noscript><img alt=Fast and Furious 7 (Universal Pictures)” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/” class=”caas-img”/>

Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 7 (Universal Images)

Used in: fast furious

Sometimes it’s too hard to say goodbye to a character, and so some sequels create a reality where they’re just gone happily ever after. After the tragic death of Paul Walker in a car accident in 2013, the producers of the Fast and Furious the franchise felt it was inappropriate to kill off or recast his character, Brian O’Conner.

Read more: Actors brought back from the dead

A mix of CGI and stand in performance by the Walker brothers completed the required work for 2017 Fast & Furious 7and for every film since O’Conner’s character has been portrayed as having retired and living happily with his wife and child.

Say goodbye

John Hammond's statue in Jurassic World.  (Universal Images)

John Hammond’s statue in Jurassic World. (Universal Images)

Used in: Jurassic World, Ghostbusters

There are occasions when it was deemed appropriate that the character died along with the actor who created them. In 2015, jurassic world opened its doors a year after the death of Sir Richard Attenborough, who played jurassic park designer John Hammond.

While Attenborough hadn’t appeared on the show since a brief role in 1997 The lost World, the film’s plot required information about Hammond’s whereabouts. Thus, it was revealed that Hammond also died shortly after. The lost Worldwith a tribute statue and voiceover on display in the new park on display.

In 2021, Ghostbusters: Afterlife faced with a similar problem. One of the original cast members, Harold Ramis, died in 2014, making a proper reunion seemingly impossible. However, director Jason Reitman found a way to both respect the actor’s passing and bring his character Egon Spengler back, by making Egon’s death central to the plot. Actor Bob Gunton (The Shawshank Redemption) and original ghost hunters director Ivan Reitman both acted as body doubles for Egon, while a digital likeness was created for an emotional farewell.

Like with wakanda forever, these films recognized the essential contribution of actors while finding a way to expand the universe without them. While there’s no one way to handle the passing of a beloved artist, many films find a way to say a final goodbye in a satisfying way.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters and IMAX from November 11. Watch a trailer below.

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