Advertisement

The Last Movie 27 Of Hollywood's Biggest Stars Shot Before They Died

From massive blockbusters to movies largely forgotten, here are the final projects from some of Hollywood's biggest names.

As a profession, acting is something that somebody can do at virtually any age, as such few actors ever bother to retire, and simply continue to make films until the day comes that they can't anymore. As such, it's basically impossible to know when a given film will be the last performance of one of the greats. From those who tragically die young to those who continued to work for decades, This is a look at the sometimes surprising final movies by some of the world's biggest movie stars.

A couple of caveats to the forthcoming list. As the title states, we're looking at the final movies that certain actors and actresses worked on, which is not necessarily the last movie that was ever released, as sometimes movies that had been in development earlier get completed years and even decades later. We're also only considering theatrically released films, and not television movies or series. 

(Universal Pictures)
Heath Ledger - The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Ledger's legacy is most closely tied to The Dark Knight for which he won a posthumous Oscar, but he had already moved on to filming Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus before he died. The script was modified and saw Ledger's character "transformed" at various points, allowing three of Ledger's friends, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Firth to all step in to collectively help complete the movie. 

(Sony Pictures)
Marilyn Monroe - The Misfits

Marilyn Monroe's role in the drama The Misfits was not the sort of performance that made her famous, yet her final performance, given more than a year before her death, is considered one of her best by critics today.  Monroe had been involved in another movie, Something's Gotta Give at the time of her death, but so little of the movie had been completed that production was simply halted.

(United Artists)
James Dean - Giant

James Dean was an up-and-coming star when he died in a single-car accident in 1955. He only made three big screen movies before his death with East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and his final film, Giant which was released the year after his death.

(WB)
John Candy - Wagons East

Wagons East sees John Candy as a wagon master who has agreed to take a group of settlers who have decided the West isn't for them back to the East. Candy died of a heart attack during production, and stand-ins were used to finish the film so it could be released a few months later. 

(Lionsgate)
Paul Walker - Furious 7

The death of Paul Walker in a tragic car accident took place during the filming of Furious 7. The movie's ending was modified to give his character a proper sendoff and his brother, along with CGI, was used to recreate Walker's likeness for a final farewell.

(Univeral Pictures)
Bruce Lee - Enter The Dragon

Bruce Lee's Game of Death uses a combination of the actor and a double as the martial arts expert passed away before he could finish it. However, all of Lee's scenes were shot prior to the film going on hiatus so he could film Enter the Dragon, making this the final film he shot before passing away. 

(Golden Harvest/Warner Bros)
Katharine Hepburn - Love Affair

Katharine Hepburn was a four-time Oscar winner when she passed away in 2003. She was largely done with the big screen by the 1980s, but she did appear in a small role in Warren Beatty's Love Affair in 1994, the last year she worked before retiring for good. 

(WB)
Brandon Lee - The Crow

The son of Bruce Lee was well on his way to following in his father's footsteps when his life was tragically cut short. A prop gun on the set of The Crow malfunctioned firing a projectile into Lee, which caused his death. His final scenes were filmed with stand-ins so that the movie could be completed. 

(Miramax)
Robin Williams - Absolutely Anything

Robin Williams' death in 2014 broke the hearts of millions of fans. There would be two more chances to see (and hear) him at the movies, however. Williams' final appearance was in A Night at the Museum: Secrets of The Tomb which was released just months after his passing. His final project, however, would be as the voice of Dennis the dog in the Simon Pegg-led comedy Absolutely Anything.

(Lionsgate)
Brittany Murphy - Something Wicked

Actress Brittany Murphy died unexpectedly in 2009 and her death has remained a subject of controversy to this day. Her final performance, in the psychological horror movie Something Wicked would not be seen for years as the film was not officially released until 2014.

(Merchant Films)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was not an actor who often appeared in major franchise movies but two of his final performances would come in the two-part finale of The Hunger Games. Mockingjay - Part 1 would be released shortly after his death in 2014. By that point the majority of his role in Mockingjay - Part 2 had been completed, making his final on-screen performance a year later.

(Lionsgate)
Judy Garland - I Could Go On Singing

While Judy Garland would continue to perform right up until she died in 1969, her last years were spent on stage rather than screen. Her final film role would be in 1963's I Could Go on Singing, where she played a successful singer who attempts to bond with her estranged son.  

(United Artists)
John Wayne - The Shootist

John Wayne's final film role in 1976's The Shootist was in many ways the culmination of his entire career. In the film, he plays a former Western lawman who is dying of cancer, the same disease that would take Wayne's own life three years after the film was completed. 

(Paramount Pictures)
Angela Lansbury - Glass Onion

Angela Lansbury had the sort of career that many actors can only dream of. She was a beloved star of both the big and small screen. Her final appearance in a movie was on an even smaller screen, as she appears on Benoit Blanc's laptop in Glass Onion, as one of four celebrities that Daniel Craig's detective is playing video games with. 

(Netflix)
Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Few people knew of Chadwick Boseman's colon cancer diagnosis, which made his death in 2020 a surprise to many. His final movie, An adaptation of the August Wilson play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom for Netflix would earn the actor a posthumous Oscar nomination. 

(Netflix)
Audrey Hepburn - Always

The iconic star of Breakfast at Tiffany's and My Fair Lady made only a handful of films once the 1960s were over. In her final film, she was directed by Steven Spielberg in one of his largely overlooked dramas, Always, in which she plays a spirit named Hap who sets recently departed Richard Dreyfuss on the right path. 

(Universal Pictures)
Marlon Brando - The Score

Marlon Brando was famously difficult to work with, something that remained true up to his final performance. 2001's The Score reportedly required co-star Robert De Niro to direct his old friend, as Brando refused to be directed by Frank Oz. Brando would pass away in 2004.

(Paramount Pictures)
Ingrid Bergman - Autumn Sonata

Most famous for the role of Ilsa in Casablanca, Ingrid Bergman starred in Autumn Sonata, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman (while the two get famously confused, there is no relation). She was nominated for her seventh Academy Award for the role. 

(Constantin Film)
Dennis Hopper - The Last Film Festival

Dennis Hopper passed away during during the production of The Last Film Festival, an indie comedy in which he plays a producer who has been blackballed from every other film festival, and thus attends one in a small American town. The movie turned to Kickstarter to raise the funding needed to complete the project, which they did. 

(Monterey Media)
River Phoenix - Dark Blood

For years it seemed River Phoenix's final film would be the country music drama The Thing Called Love. Phoenix was in the middle of filming the movie Dark Blood when he died in 1993, but his death seemingly ended the production. In 2011 the director picked up the unused footage and reedited it into a complete film. Dark Blood was released in 2014, after making a film festival run in 2012. 

(Sluizer Films)
Bette Davis - Wicked Stepmother

Bette Davis was one of the all-time greats of the silver screen, but her final appearance was maybe not up to her previous standards, which is why she reportedly left in the middle of filming. 1989's Wicked Stepmother sees Davis as a witch who marries into an unsuspecting family. The plot shifts part way through to focus on the daughter of Davis' character after the All About Eve star left the film.

(MGM)
Vincent Price - Edward Scissorhands

Vincent Price was one of the fathers of the modern horror movie, so it's fitting that his final big screen outing was as the father of Edward Scissorhands, a movie that blended the horror with the heartwarming in a way that only Tim Burton could. 

(20th Century Fox)
Sidney Poitier - The Jackal

Sydney Poitier made history as the first Black actor to win the Oscar for Best Actor in 1964. More than 30 years later he would make his final silver screen performance, as the head of the FBI in 1997's The Jackal with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere. He did do one last television movie, released in 2001 called The Last Brickmaker in America before retiring from acting. 

(Universal Pictures)
Humphrey Bogart - The Harder They Fall

Humphrey Bogart created iconic screen characters from The Maltese Falcon Sam Spade to Casablanca's Rick. His character in 1956's The Harder They Fall, Bogie's last role, isn't nearly as well remembered, but Eddie Willis, the down-on-his-luck sportswriter who gets involved in a boxing scheme to throw fights is just the sort of character that Bogart did so well.

(Columbia Pictures)
Natasha Richardson - The Wildest Dream

Natasha Richardson's death from injuries sustained in a skiing accident in 2009 shocked the entertainment world. Her final screen performance where she would be seen was 2008's Wild Child but her final work came as a voice in the documentary film The Wildest Dream which followed the story of the first man who attempted to scale Mount Everest, and the climber decades later who found his body.

(NatGeo)
Elizabeth Taylor - The Flintstones

The live-action Flintstones movie does not exist in particularly high regard among fans, but if it is remembered at all it will likely be because it contains the final theatrical appearance of Elizabeth Taylor. She played Pearl Slaghoople, Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law.

(Universal Pictures)
Charlie Chaplin - A Countess From Hong Kong

Charlie Chaplin was one of the first movie stars the world had ever seen. When he started movies didn't even have sound. By the end they had gained, voice, color, and so much more. 1967's A Countess From Hong Kong is a work of Chaplin's primarily behind the camera, as he wrote and directed the film which stars Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren. However, he does appear briefly on screen, for one final time, in a cameo as a ship's porter.

(Universal Pictures)

From massive blockbusters to movies largely forgotten, here are the final projects from some of Hollywood's biggest names.