15 Legendary Actors Who Died On Screen
These actors left us too soon when they died on screen. The thing that makes a really iconic movie death is one where you miss them badly after their character dies, or you want their character to meet a timely death. It also gives the actor a chance to show off their imitation of a dying scream, a tortured grunt, or a wail of sorrow. Anybody can act like they’re breathing, but it takes more skill to act like they’re biting the bullet and passing away to another realm. You will be fascinated that these are the legendary actors who died on screen.
Michael Gambon won four British Academy Television Awards from 1987 to 2002 for his various roles, but most Americans know him as Albus Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” movies. In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” Dumbledore and Harry Potter go to the Astronomy Tower where they run into Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape. Draco hesitates to kill Dumbledore, so Snape casts a killing curse and the rest is history.
John Hurt was in the movie “Alien” but his character wasn’t exactly an alien. He had an alien inside of him. Hurt was in the famous chestburster scene and it became one of the most iconic death scenes of all time. Hurt was also in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” and “V for Vendetta.” He has won a Golden Globe and four BAFTA Awards.
Garey Busey was in “Lethal Weapon” and he fought Mel Gibson’s character, Martin Riggs. Riggs beats up Busey’s character, Joshua, in hand-to-hand combat and then Joshua gets a gun. Then Riggs and Danny Glover’s character fire at Joshua, killing him. Throughout Busey’s career, he’s been through drug addiction, rehab, arrests for domestic violence, and health scares according to Yahoo Movies. Busey was also in “Celebrity Big Brother 14” in 2014.
Say hello to Tony Montana in the 1983 movie “Scarface.” Al Pacino played a Cuban immigrant/drug lord who buries his face in a mound of cocaine then he uses an M-16 with a grenade launcher to attack a bunch of hitmen. Montana gets shot a bunch of times and then his body falls into a fountain in front of a statue that says “The world is yours.” This was a stylish death scene that made history.
Margaret Hamilton had already made 25 films by the time she was cast as the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz,” but it was that role that made her a legend. According to the Oz wiki, she kept her salary below $1000 a week. She actually suffered for her art because she suffered first-degree burns on her face and second-degree burns on her hand when she filmed the death scene in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Brad Pitt may have married Angelina Jolie, but he was also in a bunch of movies with George Clooney. In the movie “Burn After Reading,” Pitt plays a personal trainer named Chad Feldheimer who plans to bribe a man played by John Malkovich. Chad then sneaks into the man’s house to steal more stuff and gets shot by a womanizing U.S. Marshal played by Clooney. It’s a very shocking death scene.
You remember that “Simpsons” episode where Homer chases the rest of the family with an axe? That was a reference to “The Shining” where Jack Nicholson plays a man named “Jack Torrance.” Torrance is a father who gets drunk and goes crazy after some creepy stuff happens at the hotel that he and his family are staying at. He chases his son through a maze with an axe and freezes to death in the snow.
Janet Leigh died in the movie “Psycho” and lives to tell the tale. “I stopped taking showers and I take baths, only baths. I make sure the doors and windows of the house are locked and I leave the bathroom door open and shower curtain open. I’m always facing the door, watching, no matter where the shower head is,” Leigh told the New York Times. For that role, Leigh earned a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress and an Academy Award nomination.
Faye Dunaway was in one of the bloodiest death scenes in cinematic history. She played Bonnie Parker in “Bonnie and Clyde.” Her character was a waitress who decided to start robbing banks with a guy named Clyde. Then they get double-crossed by a man who sets them up for an ambush by cops who come out from a bush and riddle them with bullets. Dunaway also won an Oscar and was in the lead actress in the movie “Mommie Dearest.”
Leonardo DiCaprio was such a huge part of “Titanic” that he may not be able to top it in his lifetime. He was the love interest that sank into the depths of many hearts and became a superstar overnight. “You know, it’s been such a long time, but it was such, you know, a huge part of my life. And people maybe think I have a reaction to that film. But the truth is, I’m incredibly roud of it,” DiCaprio told CBS.
Samuel L. Jackson played a man named Gator in the movie “Jungle Fever.” Gator storms into his dad’s house and demands money. He argues with his dad and he mocks his father. Then his father shoots him in the stomach and he dies of his wounds. Jackson brought his own experience to the role. “I was two weeks out of rehab. I’d been smoking cocaine for a year and a half…I had done the research,” Jackson told Esquire.
Natalie Portman was in “Black Swan” as a ballerina and she won an Oscar for her performance. She dies in a dark and twisted ending that just mirrors the psychotic adventure her character was having. “Natalie sweated long and hard to deliver a great physical and emotional performance. And I don’t want anyone to think that’s not her they are watching. It is,” director Darren Aronofsky told Entertainment Weekly. She danced into the Hollywood fame.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” made over $200 million worldwide. It also won four Academy Awards and was praised for its martial arts sequences, story, direction, and musical score. Chow Yun-fat played a Wudang swordsman named Li Mu Bai who dies at the end of the movie after being hit with a poison dart. He finally confesses his love for the beautiful Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi’s character jumps off a cliff.
Heath Ledger died too soon. His character was arguably more popular than the title character of “The Dark Knight.” Ledger spoke to IGN about preparing for his iconic role. “You know, I want it to be a very sinister kind of thing. It’s so early that I’m trying to leave it open at this point and I don’t want to be glued down to any one idea…I definitely have an image in my head,” said Ledger.
Maybe the old fashioned secret to a great death scene is to pray for your father. That’s what Marlon Brando told Martin Sheen to do when Sheen’s character killed Brando’s character in “Apocalypse Now.” In an Indie London interview, Sheen talked about bringing an axe to Brando. “I’m bringing up this club, and then it slides down to him, so you see him before you see the club coming down,” said Sheen.