Chadwick Boseman, beloved by audiences around the world for his work in "Black Panther," has now earned an Oscar nomination for his final film performance in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" as a talented but hot-headed musician betrayed and exploited by white producers. Deaths in Hollywood have turned several films into impromptu tributes to dearly-departed actors, serving as a final testament to their work.
By far the most famous posthumous performance is Heath Ledger's chilling portrayal of the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Ledger's Oscar-winning work showed just how evil and dangerous Batman's greatest adversary can be, as he sought to destroy humanity's ideals and drag Gotham down into nihilistic chaos.
Bruce Lee is now considered to be a martial arts legend around the world, but for much of his life his fame was mostly confined to Hong Kong. "Enter The Dragon," the first film released after his death in 1973, became his breakthrough hit.
Just weeks before the release of "Star Trek: Beyond," Anton Yelchin was killed in a freak accident at his house at the age of 27. While he would be seen in other films like "Thoroughbreds," his final performance as Pavel Chekhov in the "Trek" reboot films became the most poignant.
Bruce Lee's son, Brandon, was tragically killed while filming the noir superhero film, "The Crow." Lee played the titular dark vigilante, who is brought back from the dead by a mystical crow to hunt down the gang that killed him and his wife. The film was praised for its bold visual style, with Roger Ebert declaring that Lee had made a cinematic marvel that surpassed that of his father's.
Another star whose magnum opus came out after his death was famed bad boy James Dean. He got an Oscar nomination and worldwide acclaim for his performance in "East of Eden," but the teen angst classic that he is most known for today, "Rebel Without A Cause," was released a month after Dean died in a car crash.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had several films in the can when he died in February 2014, including a lead role in an adaptation of John Le Carre's "A Most Wanted Man." But his most prominent posthumous role was in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" as District 13 strategist Plutarch Heavensbee.
The 1961 Arthur Miller drama "The Misfits" is a melancholy milestone in movie history. The film features Clark Gable in his final performance, as he died 10 days after filming. It was also the last role for Marilyn Monroe, who struggled with substance abuse during filming and died 18 months after its release. Modern critics consider "The Misfits" to be one of the finest films in the careers of both actors.
Bela Lugosi is a legend of early horror films, which makes it somewhat ironic that his final project is one of the most infamous bombs of all time. Lugosi had been working with "Plan 9" director Ed Wood on other projects, but after Lugosi's death, Wood included some of the silent footage from them in "Plan 9" and gave him top billing.
James Gandolfini will forever be known for being the ultimate mob boss, Tony Soprano. But in his final film, "The Drop," Gandolfini played a crook who was far removed from Tony's confidence and power. He starred alongside Tom Hardy as Marv, a bar owner whose establishment keeps money for the Chechnyan mob.
Along with Laurence Olivier, Spencer Tracy holds the record for most Best Actor Oscar nominations, with the ninth and final nomination coming for a film released six months after his death. That film was "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," in which Tracy played the worried father of a white woman marrying a black man. The film became famous for challenging prejudice against interracial couples, as well as the limits of liberal tolerance.
Peter Finch's final performance was as the mad prophet of the airwaves, Howard Beale, in the legendary satire "Network." Unlike the other films on this list, "Network" came out before Finch's death. However, Finch died before winning an Oscar for the role, making him the only actor to posthumously win an Oscar for a leading role.
"Star Wars" fans mourned when Carrie Fisher died at the end of 2016, making Leia Organa's reunion with Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" even more poignant a year later. Fisher also appeared via archival and unused footage in "The Rise of Skywalker" in 2019.