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HOLLYWOOD — The recent loss of “Fast and Furious” actor Paul Walker has acted as a sort of exclamation mark to an already melancholy year for Hollywood.
While it’s impossible to say goodbye to each of the more than 70 celebrities who’ve passed away this year, here are five who’ve left some of the biggest impressions on both the industry and their fans.
It’s interesting to see a new generation of moviegoers who love the “Fast and Furious” films in the same way I was attached to films of the '80s and '90s.
“I still have such a strong connection to that film and what it meant to me growing up,” Draven of AintitCool said about the original “The Fast and the Furious. “I watch it at least once a year and will defend it to my dying day.”
While I never embraced the franchise, I still feel for fans who viewed Walker as the man who saved the series when co-star Vin Diesel walked away. I’m always rooting for the actor who doesn’t get too big for his breakthrough projects, and, from everything I’ve read, Walker was always an approachable and charitable guy. Losing Walker is a truly tragic way to say goodbye to 2013.
I may be one of six people who enjoyed “Where the Wild Things Are,” so when it comes to James Gandolfini, I’ll always remember him as the guy who voiced the wonderfully complex and lovable Carol.
But whatever project you personally love him for, Gandolfini is a man who gave his whole heart to his characters and convincingly sold everything from a CIA Director in “Zero Dark Thirty” and the conflicted gay hitman in “The Mexican” to everyone’s favorite Tony Soprano and a lonely monster who would rather eat his buddy Max than let him go.
Gandolfini was a man who had a thousand projects left in him but, appropriately enough, gave the world a final film titled “Enough Said.”
Cory Monteith may have been only that kid (or man playing a kid) from “Glee,” but don’t tell that to a “Glee” fan. The viewers who loved “Glee” gave their hearts to Monteith in a way I’ll never understand, and, at the end of the day, losing another person to addiction is simply heartbreaking.
I don’t know what the future had in store for Monteith, but being remembered as the guy who made fans cry while he sang “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” or the man who reintroduced kids to Journey and REO Speedwagon — well, I can think of worse things to be remembered for.
While I was genuinely saddened by the loss of everyone on this list, the news of Harryhausen’s passing affected me the most. Sure, he was 92 and had lived a full life and enjoyed a legacy that should be celebrated — I absolutely get that. But I still remember when my dad sat me down as a kid and fired up “Jason and the Argonauts” or the original “Clash of the Titans” and I felt overwhelmed thinking of just how much time moving an entire skeleton army frame by frame would actually take.
If you don’t know Ray Harryhausen, or if the first time you heard his name was during the restaurant scenes in “Monsters, Inc.,” do yourself a favor and Google some of his work. Animators and effects artists around the world owe him a tip of their hats, as do the many sushi lovers of Monstropolis.
As a guy who reviews films and constantly yammers on about upcoming movie news, I hold the name Roger Ebert sacrosanct. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner, a cancer survivor, a Walk of Fame star and, above all, a man who got paid to watch movies.
Ebert gave credibility to the rest of us because he understood film as art. His critiques didn’t go on about how a specific movie wasn’t his kind of film or how an actor annoyed him in general. He understood the ingredients that make up visual storytelling and packaged his responses in a way that casual audiences understood and appreciated.
Somehow, he was able to elevate the act of critiquing art into an art form all its own. Travis has been covering movie news, film reviews and live events for Deseret News and KSL.com since 2010, and currently co-hosts the FlicksJunkies podcast. You can contact Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org