Celebrities | Pop Culture

12 Actors During Their Big Break, And During Their Last Major Role

Every famous actor got their start somewhere, and it's often pretty crazy to see their evolution through the years as their careers advance. Some make it to old age, while others die of unfortunate circumstances, and the following 12 feature plenty of both.

Heath Ledger

One of the definitive 90s and 2000s heartthrobs, Ledger got his big break on Sweat and went on to iconic roles in 10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight's Tale, and The Dark Knight. He passed away while filming The Imagninarium of Dr. Parnassus due to an accidental overdose on prescription medication.

Sir Richard Harris

A renowned actor of stage and screen, Harris made his name on stellar performances in Camelot, Cromwell, Unforgiven, and of course, the first two Harry Potter movies. He passed away in 2002 due to Hodgkin's Disease.

James Dean

A superstar despite his short career, Dean was everyone's favorite rebel without a cause in the 1950s. Unfortunately, his lifestyle caught up with him, and he died at the age of 24 in a car accident.

Robin Williams

One of the most beloved comedians of all time, Williams made it big as the titular alien in Mork and Mindy before landing career-defining roles in Dead Poets Society, Hook, Aladdin, and Good Will Hunting. Williams struggled with mental illness for much of his life, and ultimately took his own life at the age of 63.

Marilyn Monroe

One of the most iconic leading ladies in movie history, Monroe wowed audiences both with her performances in movies like Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and her bombastic personal life. She passed away at the age of 36 from acute barbiturate poisoning, which the coroner declared a suicide.

River Phoenix

A highly successful actor from the time he was a child, the Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Stand By Me star ultimately died of an overdose at the age of 23.

The differences get pretty wild from here...

Gene Wilder

A beloved comedian and favorite of Mel Brooks, Wilder had us all in stitches thanks to performances in The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and of course, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He retired from acting in the early 2000s to spend time writing and painting, and ultimately passed away in 2016 at the age of 84.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

With his distinctive look and versatile acting abilities, Hoffman was a fan favorite thanks to movies like Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, Magnolia, and Almost Famous. He had a recurring role in the Hunger Games films, during which he unfortunately died of a drug overdose.

Paul Walker

With a steady career in TV and teen comedies since the 80s, Walker found his greatest success with the Fast and the Furious franchise, which would ultimately be his final roles due to an untimely death in a car accident.

John Belushi

He made us laugh uproariously from the get-go thanks to his time on Saturday Night Live, and continued that trend in a string of movies like Animal House, The Blues Brothers and Neighbors. He passed away at the age of 33 due to an overdose of cocaine and heroin.

Audrey Hepburn

The queen of the silver screen for decades, Hepburn is still an icon today thanks to iconic performances in movies like Roman Holiday, Breakfast At Tiffany's, and My Fair Lady. She was also an activist and philanthropist, which were her true passions right up until her death in 1993 from appendicular cancer.

John Candy

The Canadian comedy juggernaut stole our hearts in movies like Stripes, Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles before passing away at the age of 43.

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