30 Great Posthumous Performances

Fitting tributes to the dearly departed

God's Pocket (2014)

The Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Mickey Scarpato

Rest In Peace: Having long battled drug addiction, Hoffman suffered a heroin overdose during a relapse and died, aged 46, on 2nd February, 2014.

The Legacy: Hoffman fans have an extended opportunity to pay tribute, as the actor had four films unreleased when he died. In November, the first of the two-part Hunger Games finale Mockingjay will be released (with the second to follow next year), while this month sees the arrival of his final lead role in A Most Wanted Man . Already, though, God's Pocket - still in cinemas - offers ample proof that Hoffman has bowed out with his talent undimmed.

Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

The Actor: Al Mulock

Rest In Peace: A ghoulish one, this. The 41-year-old Mulock committed suicide before he completed this film, jumping from his hotel room in May 1968.

The Legacy: Despite not finishing it, Mulock's presence in the film's opening sequence - one of the greatest sequences in cinema - is enough to secure his place on this list.

Waitress (2007)

The Actor: Adrienne Shelly as Dawn

Rest In Peace: Indie actress-turned-director Shelly was on the verge of a breakthrough hit when she was murdered, aged 40, by construction worker Diego Pillco on 1st November 2006.

The Legacy: Waitress premiered at Sundance to widespread praise two months after Shelly's death. In addition to writing and directing, Shelly gives a warm, selfless support to star Keri Russell as co-worker Dawn.

Yellowbeard (1983)

The Actor: Marty Feldman as Gilbert

Rest In Peace: The bug-eyed comedian died aged only 48, suffering a fatal heart attack on 2nd December 1982 while mid-shoot on Yellowbeard .

The Legacy: Yellowbeard is, by most people's admission, a mess, but Feldman thrives on the chaos; he's the best thing in it.

Red River (1948)

The Actor: Harry Carey as Mr Melville

Rest In Peace: One of the first screen cowboys in the silent age, Carey died on 21st September 1947 from lung cancer, aged 69.

The Legacy: By Red River (shot in 1946, but delayed two years), Carey had graduated to being a character actor, but there's a neat symmetry in getting to end his career in one of the classic Westerns, especially one starring his protégé John Wayne.

Transformers: The Movie (1986)

The Actor: Orson Welles as Unicron

Rest In Peace: One of cinema's mightiest voices was finally felled, aged 70, after a heart attack on 10th October 1985.

The Legacy: Highbrow critics might bemoan the fact that his last appearance in a fictional film was doing the voiceover for a Transformers 'toon… but snobbery aside, Welles' booming baritone is a brilliant choice for the eater of planets.

Bridesmaids (2011)

The Actor: Jill Clayburgh as Judy Walker

Rest In Peace: Clayburgh died from leukaemia on 5th November 2010, after a twenty-year battle against the disease.

The Legacy: While Love And Other Drugs (released shortly after her death) was dedicated to Clayburgh, her final appearance in Bridesmaids , playing Kristen Wiig's mother, proved the stronger swansong and a reminder of the spirit that made her a star in the 1970s.

Joe (2013)

The Actor: Gary Poulter as Wade

Rest In Peace: Poulter, a homeless man for whom Joe was his first and only acting role, was found drowned in September 2013, before the film's general release.

The Legacy: Poulter's unfamiliarity makes Wade a genuinely unpredictable, terrifying character, and he comes close to stealing the movie from stars Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan.

The Shooting Party (1985)

The Actor: James Mason as Sir Randolph Nettleby

Rest In Peace: Mason died of a heart attack on 27th July 1984 at the age of 75.

The Legacy: Mason replaced Paul Scofield after the latter broke his leg during an on-set accident. The role of a society kingpin proved to be a fitting tribute to one of Britain's classiest stars. (Remarkably, another actor on this list owes his great posthumous role to Scofield - read on!)

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

The Actor: Bela Lugosi as Old Man

Rest In Peace: The iconic star of Dracula was buried in his cape after dying of a heart attack, aged 73, on 16th August 1956.

The Legacy: Let's be honest. Lugosi isn't on this list due to the quality of his performance (which, in fact, was mostly handled by his stand-in: director Ed Wood's chiropractor!). Nonetheless, it is a reminder that it's never too late for even an apparent has-been to achieve a late-career comeback.

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