5 Dead Actors Digitally Resurrected in Movies (VIDEOS)
Paul Walker, Furious 7
Credit: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Universal Pictures    

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5 Dead Actors Digitally Resurrected in Movies (VIDEOS)

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You can’t script real life, and sometimes actors’ unexpected deaths leave filmmakers scrambling to make a cohesive story.

The movie magic behind Paul Walker’s appearance in Furious 7 is making headlines today, but we’ve rounded up some other instances of Hollywood resurrections, including two stars who were actually long dead before their films started production!

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Paul Walker, Furious 7

In the December 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, CGI powerhouse Weta Digital explains how they constructed Paul Walker’s performance for around 350 shots in Furious 7 following his November 2013 death — using Paul’s brothers, for example, for their similar physiques.

“There really wasn’t room to let anything slip. It was too important to complete the story in respect to Paul’s memory — to make sure that when you watched it, you didn’t think about any of the work that we did,” VFX supervisor Joe Letteri says. “If you were a fan, you were watching Paul's performance and saying goodbye.”

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Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Hunger Games
Credit: Lionsgate    

Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a drug overdose in February 2014 with about a week left of production on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — including one “major, emotional scene” for his character, gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee. But director Francis Lawrence completed the two-part film by reworking the script and spliced in actual footage of the Oscar winner where necessary.

Oliver Reed, Gladiator

In May 1999, on a break from filming Gladiator, Oliver Reed suffered a fatal heart attack, and the filmmakers used outtakes and body doubles to complete his performance as slave dealer Proximo.

“I sat down with the editor and went through all the rushes of Oliver,” VFX supervisor Rob Harvey told BBC, explaining his Oscar-winning work on the 2000 film. “We had to find lines that were dropped and takes that weren’t used to piece together a coherent sequence.”

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Laurence Olivier, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Laurence Olivier, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Credit: Paramount Pictures    

Filmmakers cast British acting legend Laurence Olivier opposite Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie in the 2004 action-adventure film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, even though the Rebecca star died in July 1989. So digital sleuths paired archive footage of Laurence with a voice double to create his character, the mad scientist Dr. Totenkopf.

Marlon Brando, Superman Returns

In a featurette, VFX warehouse Rhythm + Hues actually took us behind the scenes to show how they stitched together old footage and audio to have Marlon Brando reprise his role as Superman’s biological father, Jor-El, in 2006’s Superman Returns — in spite of Marlon’s death in July 2004, eight months before filming began.

Clearly these actors have achieved immortality — on the silver screen, at least!