We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
This week’s “Question of the Week” on Jeff Bayer’s “Movie B.S.” podcast is inspired by Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 film that features actress/singer Whitney Houston in her last on-screen performance. This question is, "What dead performer do you wish had made one last movie before they died, and what would it be?"
In honor of Houston, and many others who left us before giving us the movie that they should've made last, here's a list of the Top 7 Imaginary Last Performances from Dead Actors.
7. Phil Hartman
Last Film: The PG-13 family action figure actioner Small Soldiers, 1998. Should've Been Last Film: While it certainly came out some time after 1998, the long-anticipated, now-forgotten Simpsons Movie just wasn't the same without Phil Hartman, who voiced classic side characters on the TV show like Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure. His parts might be small, but his characters (and voices) were nearly crucial to the satire of the series, and thus were greatly missed from what should have been a landmark moment for him and the franchise.
6. Marilyn Monroe
Last Film: The Misfits (1961), opposite Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift. Should've Been Last Film: Though her legacy is held in high regards by Hollywood standards, it would be even better for all of Monroe's contribution to the movies if she left us on a crazy, crazy note. She's an actress who did wonders when she surprised the audiences (by showing she had more charisma than just a figure of their imagination, so to speak). So let's imagine her disgusting people, and almost ruining her appeal by doing a reverse Some Like It Hot, this time with her dressed up as a dude. But not a sexy kind-of dude, I mean a really, really ugly dude. She'd pick her nose in the film, and there would definitely be a scene involving a third nipple, which may or may not be pepperoni he/she forgot to eat. Title it "No Body's Perfect" if you dare, and want to toy with a reference to the great last line in Billy Wilder's film which I have now ruined forever.
5. Heath Ledger
Last Film: Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), with a role that was completed post-humously by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell. Should've Been Last Film: After having wowed viewers with performances in The Dark Knight and Brokeback Mountain, it would have been another challenge to see Ledger in something really quiet, something I feel would round him up as a solid actor. I'm talking about something atmospheric, or a movie that lends itself more to something spiritual than that on the surface. It's great that Ledger worked with Gilliam, but what if he worked with someone like Terrence Malick as well? Harp on that for three hours.
4. Patrick Swayze
Last Film: The ensemble drama Powder Blue (2009), co-starring Jessica Biel, Eddie Redmayne, and Forest Whitaker. Should've Been Last Film: Point Break 2. They could have reunited Keanu Reeves and Swayze for another intense actioner, this time with them as middle-aged dudes. Plus, it would go to prove that Swayze's character was indeed able to master the brutal waves at the end of the first Point Break. That, or I'm sure this world would be a more peaceful place if we were graced with just one more Swayze-led Road House sequel.
3. Andy Kaufman
Last Film: The comedy Heartbeeps (1981) with Bernadette Peters, which I promise will instant Netflix someday. Should've Been Last Film: His own version of the biographical film Man on the Moon, that movie about Andy Kaufman. It sounds easy, but its bizarreness feels right down Kaufman's alley. Plus it would screw with audience's heads concerning the reality of Kaufman, and his alter-ego Tony Clifton. Jim Carrey does a great job with the Kaufman role, make no mistake. But seeing Kaufman play Kaufman play Tony Clifton play Kaufman is one trip we are unlucky to have missed out on.
2. Chris Farley
Last Film: The Christopher Guest-directed trailblazer Almost Heroes (1998), alongside Matthew Perry. Should've Been Last Film: Nothing will erase Farley's less fortunate moments (Beverly Hills Ninja) so he might as well have gone out with a bang. And by that, I mean voiced a loud dog in a wacky family comedy. The actor's animated antics would have probably made for some golden moments in a recording booth, especially if such audio were mixed poorly to sound like Farley is the echoing screaming subconscious of a small dog. Extra points if audio technicians could keep in the multiple times Farley accidentally swats the microphone with his brilliant physical comedy in a recording booth.
1. Orson Welles
Last Film: Someone to Love (1987). Has anybody actually seen this movie? Should've Been Last Film: Anything, really. Welles, as both actor and filmmaker, is a talent that should have been given a 40-ounce from the fountain of youth, just so we could be continually blessed with his magnificent voice and presence. With his growing filmography cut short by his death, there now isn't enough Welles in the world. I'd take even a fart-heavy transgender comedy with a young Adam Sandler for one more. OK, maybe not that.