An Actor’s Alternate Ending: What if They Were Still Alive?

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The recent passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman struck a chord.  I’m certainly not skilled enough to say anything about him that hasn’t been said already.  He was exquisite. When he was on-screen somewhere, your eyes never looked away. That’s all an actor can be.  Captivating.  Honest.  Vulnerable.  I’m so sorry to see him leave so soon.  He had many great projects ahead of him.  This article is a tribute to him and those that passed too soon.

What would it be like if the following actors were still alive?

Chris Farley

Farley died when I was a freshman in college in 1997.  I had mastered an impersonation of him.  It was kind of my thing.  I really idolized the guy.  Could you imagine what would happen if he joined forces with some of the comic greats of today?  Will Ferrell and Chris Farley co-starring in “Over The Hill”, a comedy about two men refusing to admit they are 50?  Think about it.  Farley eating and drinking like he’s 20 and Ferrell acting out like a 12-year-old that changes rules of games so he can’t lose.  Ok, ok… kind of like step brothers… but way darker.

Better than that, what if Farley started his own brand of comedy?  What would that look like?  What are we missing in life without him here?  I wish there was a heaven so I could see what that might look like one day.

John Belushi

Belushi died when I was almost three, but in my household, he was alive and well almost every day of my life.  I can’t tell you how many time my parents watched SNL reruns and Animal House with us.  Belushi had something that maybe only Zach Galifinakis has; those piercing eyes.  How else would you know if Belushi was kidding?  Or was he?  Shit.  He was brilliant.  Chee-bugga.

If he was alive today, we would have seen Belushi drive down a similar career path as Robin Williams.  He’d play some wild parts, but ultimately land a few critical gigs as a serial killer or inspirational screw up that turns his life around in order to affect the forgotten misfits of society.

Belushi would be 65 if he were alive.  How insane would it be to see him and Bill Murray strutting down a Hollywood street trading jokes and a joint today?

Heath Ledger

One of the more recent passings.  It’s already been 6 years.  If anyone’s life was a video game, Ledger unlocked all of his levels after The Dark Knight.  Hollywood would have handed him all the keys to every movie ever if he lived past the premier of Batman.  I can’t think of an actor that played two equally powerful, transcending, polarizing roles that were also nothing alike within such a short span of time.  Brokeback to Dark Knight in 3 years?  Insane.

He would have jumped past all of the other actors in Hollywood.  Likely receiving at least two Academy awards in films that could only work if he was in them.  What are those films?  I don’t know, but I’d imagine he’d play some pretty damn captivating Army Generals from our past.  Aggressive, Funny, Stern?  Unlike Hoffman, Farley and Belushi, it’s believed that he did not take his own life.  This one feels more tragic.   Especially since he and I were only 24 days apart in age.  There’s something very tangible about the death of someone your age.

Sam Kinison

He was only 38 when he died. He would be 61 today.  Ironically, killed by a drunk driver when he in fact was the one tied up in drugs and booze.  His material in the day was sometimes hateful and homophobic, but I believe, like many great artists, we would have seen him evolve into a character that would look back on his early material and likely retract some of his more homophobic rants by mocking himself.  I promise he would have been up there with Louis C.K. when it came to social commentary.  Could you imagine a movie written by him?  A Married With Children Christmas follow-up special?

Who else do you still dream of?  The list is large, but these are some that come to mind for me.

Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves to be mourned; not because he was a celebrity, but because he made us feel real emotions.  Actors affect us even if we’ve never met them.  It’s okay to be sad when they leave us.  It’s a human thing and it’s a healthy thing.

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