MovieChat Forums > Nothing in Common (1986) Discussion > Was any actor in worse physical health w...

Was any actor in worse physical health while filming?


I have to hand it to Gleason. At the time of the
shoot, he was suffering from colon cancer, liver cancer,
and thrombosed hemorrhoids during production, not to
mention diabetes and phlebitis - yet he turned in an
outstanding performance. Whatever else he was, Gleason
was no slacker.

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NEVER A SLACKER!, a toast to the man!

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There are few other notable examples of actors (and actresses) going for one final stretch and giving it all they got.
Steve McQueen as Ralph "Papa" Thorson in his final movie The Hunter (1980) being another example.

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Jason Robards in Magnolia was no slouch, either. He died shortly after production wrapped.

"She's, like, a biscuit older than me..."

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Mr. Gleason was so good that I never saw how sick he really was in this movie. As is noted, he gave it his all and I salute him for a job well done. He enjoyed his life and lived it to the max every day. Rest in peace.

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Pedro Armendáriz I From Russia with Love is another.

But I agree. Gleason was a real Profession all the way to the end.

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Spencer Tracy was VERY sick during the filming of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner". I remember in 1967 the papers picked up on them having to shut down production at least twice. But Spence the true professional he was hid it the best he could and gave it all he had, though he looked much older than his 67 years. Another one was Humphrey Bogart who was in the early stages of cancer when he filmed "The Harder They Fall" in late 1955. It did show somewhat in his previous film "The Desperate Hours" that he was looking tired, his voice getting more gravelish. I remember reading old newspaper archives, the March 8, 1956 edition had an article saying he had a major operation right after completing the film. For about 8 months, it seemed he had licked it but fate proved otherwise.
John Wayne was in bad shape when he filmed "The Shootist" in 1976. Contrary to some sources, he was not into stages of cancer yet. Plain and simple, he was 69 years old and the years of making action packed films (mostly westerns except Brannigan and McQ) simply wore his body out. Age had caught up with him, which I never thought was possible at the time.
For earlier buffs, there was Lon Chaney who filmed the talkie version of The Unholy Three in 1930. It was filmed only a few months before his death and he died less than three weeks after its release in August. Chaney did everything to look normal as only the man of a thousand faces could. He was barely 47 when filming started but he looked ten years older. He was very thin at the neck, already had wrinkles and his voice was very stone-like (though with better sound technology, only 2 years old at the time) would likely have drastically improved that.
In a case of self destruction (still that's a major health issue) if you've seen any footage of Judy Garland in 1968, one could tell she wasn't going to be around much longer. Watch the You Tube clip of her on the Tonight Show. She is likely heavily drugged, though she does her best to bring out a few laughs. The case of Judy is a sad one--it never had to happen but MGM simply wore this lady out. The best thing that happened to her was getting away from them in 1951. L.B. Mayer was a tyrant in spite of the good films the studio made.
For silent film buffs there was Wallace Reid. Wally spent the last three years of his life addicted to morphine due to an injury. Stories abound of Wally having to be propped up in front of the camera to do his close-ups with him being so drugged. The schedule was brutal. He made an average of 7 to 8 films a year from 1920-22, his final years.

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You could see in Gleason's eyes in this movie that he was very sick and didn't have much more time to live.

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Gleason was a pro, and this was a very authentic performance.

Massimo Troisi was dying of heart disease while filming "Il Postino" (The Postman), which was an art house hit in the USA in 1996. They told him to stop filming to get treatment, but he pushed through to the end and died 12 hours after the end of filming.

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What's really astonishing is that this movie was shot in the fall of 1985, and yet it still would be another two years before Gleason died. Wow.

All those who hate Katherine Heigl can eat s-t and die!!!

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