Robin Williams's death puts Mrs. Doubtfire 2 in jeopardy

When actors die with new movies in production, sometimes the only course of action is to cancel the project.

Producers may be forced to cancel production after legendary comedian's death

Robin Williams appears in the 1993 movie Mrs. Doubtfire. Finding a replacement for the acclaimed actor in the sequel would be tough. (Fox/YouTube)

The fate of the long-awaited sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire is up in the air after the sudden death of Robin Williams on Monday. 

Williams had been reportedly meeting with the film’s writer David Berenbaum to bring the beloved characters of Daniel Hillard and Euphegenia Doubtfire back to the screen. 

An official decision has not been made to scrap the film, but finding a replacement for the acclaimed actor would be tough. 

A still image from the 1993 movie Mrs. Doubtfire shows Robin Williams with his child co-stars and actress Sally Field. (20th Century Fox)

The 1993 hit, which raked in more than $400 million, featured Williams as a dad who pretends to be an eccentric elderly housekeeper in order to see his children while they are in his wife’s custody. 

The film’s cast members are expressing their grief over the loss of Williams. 

Sally Field co-starred with Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire. "He always lit up when he was able to make people laugh, and he made them laugh his whole life long, tirelessly. He was one of a kind. There will not be another," said Field.  

Robin Williams's final roles

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is already in post-production and slated to open on Dec. 19. (Doane Gregory/20th Century Fox)
Williams had a number of projects in various states of completion, including Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

The adventure comedy, in which Williams reprises his role as Teddy Roosevelt, is already in post-production and slated to open on Dec. 19.

Fans can also expect to see Williams in the holiday comedy Merry Friggin’ Christmas in early November. But the Dito Montiel drama Boulevard, in which Williams plays a 60-year-old man coming out of the closet, doesn't yet have a distributor.

Creative solutions to actors' deaths

When actors die with new movies in production, sometimes the only course of action is to cancel the project. But occasionally there are other creative solutions.

Producers were left scrambling when Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead from a drug overdose in his New York City apartment last February.

The Oscar-winning actor was one of the stars of the big budget Hunger Games franchise, playing chief game maker Plutarch Heavensbee.

Hunger Games star Philip Seymour Hoffman had one week of filming left to complete when he was found dead last February. (Victoria Will/Associated Press)

The 46-year-old had already filmed most of his scenes for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, due out Nov. 21, but had a week of filming left on Part 2.

According to several reports, the film's producers decided to use CGI technology to digitally create Hoffman instead of rewriting the script or hiring a new actor to take his place. 

Finding a more radical solution

Hiring a new actor, or several new actors, was the extreme measure taken when Heath Ledger accidentally overdosed on prescription drugs in January 2008. The 28-year-old had only shot half of his scenes as the lead in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus at the time.

Rather than cancel the project, director and co-writer Terry Gilliam substituted three actors in Ledger's place: Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell.  

It took three actors to replace Heath Ledger when he died in January 2008 before the completion of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

This radical filmmaking solution was only possible since Ledger had shot the more realistic portions of the movie, which told the story of a travelling theatre company, and the other three actors continued his role in a fantastical realm.

Despite the Herculean effort to get The Imaginarium to theatre, the film earned only modest reviews.

James Gandolfini's final film to screen at TIFF

Actor James Gandolfini, famous for his lead role in The Sopranos television series, died of a heart attack while vacationing in Italy in June 2013. 

Fortunately for the film's producers, the 51-year-old had already completed filming and sound mixing for Enough Said, a romantic comedy that earned him numerous acting awards and nominations. 

The late actor James Gandolfini, seen here in his role as Tony Soprano, left two completed films. The Drop is set to screen at TIFF 2014. (Barry Wetcher/HBO/The Associated Press)
Gandolfini's final film, a crime drama called The Drop, will premiere at this year's Toronto International Film Festival in September. It goes into wide release on Sept. 12.

While Gandolfini never screened the film before he died, his fans will get to savour one last performance more than a year after the actor's death.

With files from The Associated Press