Not So Fast: Actors and Ethics

They say that celebrity deaths come in twos. True to form, in the past two years there were two deaths that made headline news. Paul Walker died in a tragic car accident in 2013 and Philip Seymour Hoffman died the next year. This is not to say that no other celebrity or no other person has died recently, but these two actors are different because they were still in the middle of filming movies at the time of their deaths. Both had unfinished projects that they were under contract to finish.

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Fast and Furious 7 decided to use Walker’s brothers and CGI to finish filming scenes that involved him. The Hunger Games decided to go full CGI to complete Hoffman’s scenes. It is safe to say that the adjustments will integrate seamlessly. The Social Network proved that CGI can be used to replace a human’s face perfectly. The Winklevoss twins were played by two different actors and you could not tell.

Both Fast and Furious 7 and The Hunger Games are currently in post-production, meaning that the necessary adjustments have already been made. The real question is whether or not this is ethical and respectful of both the families and the deceased.

Both actors play significant roles in their movies. In The Hunger Games, the story deals with poison, death, and separation of family. It would be hard for a family member to associate this movie with Philip Seymour Hoffman because he died of a drug overdose. Paul Walker died in a car accident, and Furious 7 is a movie about driving dangerously. In a movie where one of the most memorable quotes is “ride or die,” what can be done to fulfill his contract tastefully?

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People know what will happen to Hoffman’s character because they have read the book, but no one knows what will happen to Walker’s character. There is no source material. We know for a fact that there will be at least two more sequels to the Fast franchise with a possible spin-off starring Dwayne Johnson. The question is, how will Walker’s character exit?

There have been rumors that they will kill him off. There have been rumors that they will have his character retire from the events of future sequels. There have even been rumors that they will continue to use his brothers as stand-ins for his character. At first glance, one might be able to choose the most tasteful way to tie things up. The thing that makes this tricky is contracts. Walker had contracts to finish the series. So what comes first — the needs of the family or the needs of the contract?

In recent news, TLC has canceled its popular reality show Here Comes Honey Booboo. This was one of their most successful shows in recent years, but in the course of less than a week they dropped the show so hard Skrillex would be jealous. TLC has been making a lot of money off the show and already finished filming the next season. It would take something significant for them to give up such a successful investment. Turns out Mama June had dumped her current boyfriend for her ex. Her ex is a convicted child molester who just finished a ten-year sentence. She allegedly started seeing him again the day he got out. The kicker is that he molested Mama June’s oldest daughter. TLC decided it was best to cancel the show and fully fund the children with therapy. In this ethical conundrum, TLC decided to choose the needs of the family over business.

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It is possible to see big names make ethical decision regardless of money. The question is why didn’t Furious 7 or The Hunger Games choose a more gentle method of continuing the projects? They could have possibly recast actors, as many big productions do. Why could they not rewrite the script or simply retire the characters? With the choices they made, the burden is put on the families. They have to deal with contract disputes and seeing their loved ones portrayed in a manner too similar to the way they died. What is the right thing to do?

I believe that the characters should be retired and not killed off. Of course I know that I do not hold the right answer. There is no right answer as there is always someone losing or suffering any way the cake is cut. Either the production suffers or the family suffers; the movie suffers or the ethics suffer. It is up to the audience to decide what they think is right.

Both of these movies and both actors have a huge fanbase. Regardless of what path is chosen, both movies will be a box office success and both actors will be remembered. There is no news on how both actors will finish on the big screen. One can only wait and see what happens.

As Truman always says, “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya: good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight!”

— Miguel Gonzalez, Film Blogger

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