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10 Actors Whose Final Film Was a Fitting End to Their Career, According to Reddit

Redditors recently got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which movies were a great swan song for an actor. These were excellent movies that gave the actor a solid role that lived up to their talents and served as an appropriate conclusion to their career.

The Redditors came up with some solid picks, including movies whose themes resonated with the actor’s filmography as a whole. These are touching performances that are sure to stir the viewer.

10Vincent Price – ‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990)

Vincent Price - Edward Scissorhands

One of Tim Burton‘s very best movies, Edward Scissorhands stars Johnny Depp as a gentle and misunderstood artificial man living in isolation in a gothic mansion until he is found by a mom Peg (Dianne Wiest), and welcomed into her suburban home. Vincent Price delivers a wonderful performance as the eccentric inventor who created Edward.
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Price had a storied career built on horror roles, so his character in Edward Scissorhands played cleverly on his screen persona. “Vincent Price’s last movie was Edward Scissorhands and that just fit him perfectly. Or to quote his Batman villain persona, it was ‘eggs-cellent’,” said user xwhy.

9Oliver Reed – ‘Gladiator’ (2000)

oliver reed gladiator0

Gladiator was the final role for Oliver Reed, the veteran actor who appeared in classics like Oliver!, The Three Musketeers and Tommy. He plays Proximo, a seasoned gladiator trainer who becomes a mentor and ally to Maximus (Russell Crowe).
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Reed turns in a terrific performance, bringing complexity to what could have been a stock character. “The moment when he reveals that he too once was a gladiator must be my favorite scene ever. That trembling voice and eyes. What an actor,” said Redditor Remote-Lie5470.

8Paul Newman – ‘Road to Perdition’ (2002)

paul newman road to perdition0

Paul Newman was a legend of ’60s and ’70s cinema, with iconic roles in Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Sting, to list just a few. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 83, with his final film performance being Sam Mendes‘s crime drama Road to Perdition. Newman plays John Rooney, an Irish mob boss and surrogate father figure to Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks).
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Newman brings a commanding presence to the role, portraying Rooney as a man torn between love and loyalty, and haunted by the consequences of his choices “Paul Newman in Road To Perdition is brilliant,” said user bondbat007. “The rain scene in that movie still sticks with me years later,” added Redditor witch-finder.

7Burt Lancaster – ‘Field of Dreams’ (1989)

burt lancaster field of dreams0

Burt Lancaster was a star of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, appearing in critical and commercial successes like The Killers, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Elmer Gantry, and Judgment at Nuremberg. His final film was the whimsical sports drama Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner.
Lancaster is captivating as Archibald ‘Moonlight’ Graham, a former baseball player who gave up his dreams to become a doctor. He serves as a wise mentor to Costner. “He was wonderful. The role was poetic,” said user GreatCaesarGhost.

6Harry Dean Stanton – ‘Lucky’ (2017)

harry dean stanton lucky0

Harry Dean Stanton‘s career spanned six decades, with memorable appearances in Kelly’s Heroes, The Godfather Part II, Alien, The Green Mile, and many more. He kept working right up til the age of 91, passing away in 2017 shortly after completing his final film Lucky.
He plays the title character, a 90-year-old loner living in a small desert town. Through chance encounters and meaningful conversations with the townsfolk, Lucky embarks on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. “Really strong last movie to a very long career,” said Redditor Street_Struggle_598.

5Edward G. Robinson – ‘Soylent Green’ (1973)

edward g. robinson soylent green0

Edward G. Robinson worked in Hollywood for over 50 years, appearing in more than 100 movies between the 1920s and 1970s. His final project was Soylent Green, a dystopian sci-fi starring Charlton Heston as Detective Thorn. Robinson plays Sol Roth, Thorn’s elderly friend and moral compass.
He and Heston have one especially memorable, heartfelt scene together toward the end of the movie. “The real emotion that comes out of that scene chokes me up,” said Redditor Tatooine16. “That scene has impacted my whole life! The beauty and sadness of it is astonishing,” replied user smarmageddon.

4Desmond Llewelyn – ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999)

desmond llewelyn the world is not enough0

Welsh actor Desmond Llewelyn was a veteran of British cinema, known for quirky roles in movies like Cleopatra and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He was most famous for playing Q, a purveyor of high-tech gadgets, in a full 17 Bond films between 1963 and 1999, appearing in the series more often than any other actor.
His final Bond outing was The World Is Not Enough, opposite Pierce Brosnan. In the movie, he suggests to Bond that he will be retiring soon, before announcing ‘Always have an escape plan’ and disappearing through the floor. “That scene makes me sad because it was just so perfect for a final scene,” said user StimmingMantis. “Fitting end to a long career,” replied Redditor Ozzel.

3Diana Rigg – ‘Last Night in Soho’ (2021)

diana rigg last night in soho0

Diana Rigg first gained attention in the 1960s for her role as Emma Peel in the TV show The Avengers. She went on to appear in several Shakespeare adaptations, a Bond film, a Muppet movie, and many TV series, including playing Lady Olenna on Game of Thrones. She passed away in 2020, shortly after wrapping filming on Edgar Wright‘s Last Night in Soho. In the film she plays Eloise’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) landlady in the 1960s.
It was an appropriate final role for Rigg, especially given the fact that Wright was such a fan of her work. “She absolutely murdered in that role,” said user fil42skidoo. “There’s something awfully chilling about her sitting in that burning house alone as her last scene ever,” added Redditor Heavy_Signature_5619.

2Peter Postlethwaite – ‘The Town’ (2010)

peter postlethwaite the town0

Legendary English actor Peter Postlethwaite nailed several iconic roles, including characters in Alien 3, In The Name of the Father, and The Usual Suspects. Not for nothing, Steven Spielberg once called him “the best actor in the world”. His last movie was Ben Affleck‘s The Town, in which he plays Fergus ‘Fergie’ Colm, a powerful Irish mobster who controls the criminal underworld in Charlestown, Boston.
Menacing and shrewd, Fergie is a clear highlight of the movie. “I love Pete’s acting. He actually fascinates me. His face and voice are so unique to him. One of my favorite actors of all time. One-of-a-kind material, that man,” said user PioneerStandard.

1John Wayne – ‘The Shootist’ (1976)

Ron Howard looking down and standing next to John Wayne in The ShootistParamount Pictures

There’s no bigger figure in the Western genre than John Wayne. A veritable American icon, he towered over cinema for decades, appearing in some of the most critically and commercially successful movies ever made. His last movie was The Shootist, an introspective Western about an aging gunslinger diagnosed with terminal cancer. He moves to a small town and takes up residence in a boarding house run by a widow named Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall) and her son Gillom (Ron Howard).
The film plays on Wayne’s image built over the dozens of Westerns he had done before, and he delivers a fine, believable performance. “The Shootist was a very fitting capstone to his career,” said Redditor Corrosive-Knights. “[It] was a fantastic and a fitting final bow for him,” agreed user Much-Conference1110.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Was ‘Disappointed’ He Didn’t Get an Oscar Nomination For His ‘Best Achievement’

John Wayne made it to the Academy Awards three times over the course of his career. However, he only ultimately won a single golden statue. Wayne was “disappointed” that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, which he considered his “best achievement” over the course of his career. Here’s a look at how that impacted the legendary Western star.

John Wayne played Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles in ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’

'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' Ben Johnson as Sgt. Tyree and John Wayne as Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles posing with hat over chestBen Johnson as Sgt. Tyree and John Wayne as Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon follows Cavalry Captain Nathan Brittles (Wayne) through the final job of his career before he retires. He seeks to settle an intense situation between the Cheyenne and Arapaho. However, he’s also busy transporting the wife (Mildren Natwick) and niece (Joanne Dru) of his superior. Brittles must do all that he can to stop an all-out war from taking place and get them to safety.

John Ford directs a screenplay written by Frank Nugent and Laurence Stallings. It’s the second installment in Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy, which also contains Fort Apache and Rio Grande. It was one of the most expensive Western movies of its time. Wayne plays a character much older than he was in real life, but Ford trusted him with bringing the character to life.

John Wayne was ‘disappointed’ that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’

John Farkis’ Not Thinkin’ … Just Rememberin’ … The Making of John Wayne’s ‘The Alamo’ walks readers through the iconic actor’s career. Wayne wasn’t afraid to call out a bad film when he had them, but he also openly talked about the films that he was proud of. His performance as Brittles in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon remains a huge fixture of his career. However, he wasn’t the only one singing praises of his own performance.

“I feel strongly that Duke should have been nominated for an Academy Award for his role in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” co-star John Agar said. “He was just brilliant. Remember, too, I have a lot of scenes with him. He played a guy 20 years older. To me, Yellow Ribbon was the best thing Duke ever did.”

Public audiences even felt a similar way. The movie brought in a stunning $9.15 million at the worldwide box office, making it a huge hit. As a result, Wayne knew that he had something special here that kept him involved in acting.

“For the first time, Pappy was treating me like an actor, and he showed me great respect, which I appreciated,” Wayne said. “I felt that I’d worked hard and long to reach the stage of my career, having been thinking of giving it up.”

Wayne continued: “I was disappointed at not even being nominated for Yellow Ribbon. I had played a man 60 years old, which was 17 years older than I was. I have always believed that this was my best achievement in pictures.”

‘True Grit’ won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon won an Oscar, but Wayne didn’t even get a nomination. Rather, the film won for Best Cinematography. However, the Academy Awards wouldn’t ignore Wayne forever. He would get two nominations and the eventual win.

Wayne earned his first Oscar nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima. Next, he got another nomination for The Alamo in the Best Picture category. Finally, he won his only Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his legendary performance in True Grit. However, he would prove to have a bigger effect on Hollywood than its top award, influencing fight sequences forever.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Once Explained Why He Turned Down so Many ‘Petty, Mean’ Movies

Actor John Wayne is one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures to ever work in movies. However, he was very specific about the roles he would accept and the ones that he refused to involve himself in. Wayne once explained why he turned down so many potentially big movies that he described as “petty,” “small,” and “mean” through the evolution of Hollywood.

John Wayne played particular movie roles

John Wayne in one of his last movies 'The Shootist' alongside Ron Howard. He's wearing a Western outfit and holding a gun, pointing it out standing next to a stunned Howard.L-R: Ron Howard and John Wayne | Bettmann / Contributor

Wayne has over 180 acting credits to his name, spread across movies and television shows. He became a household name for the Western and war genres, ultimately contributing huge star power to the projects later in his career. However, Wayne also wasn’t afraid to speak up when he didn’t like something about the movies that wanted him involved. This held true for both prospective projects and ones that he already signed on for.
The actor ultimately turned down projects that earned attention at the Academy Awards, including High Noon. However, it wasn’t always because he didn’t like the roles themselves. Rather, Wayne was a patriot, who didn’t want anything to do with movies that he deemed insulting to the American image.

John Wayne explained why he turned down so many ‘petty, mean’ movies at the time

The official Wayne Twitter account shared a behind-the-scenes look at one of his movies, The Shootist. He talked about the state of violence in cinema, but he also touched on how he chose what to star in. The film hit theaters in 1976, so it’s worth taking the time period in mind for what he has to say about “modern” filmmaking.

“The whole idea of our business is illusion and they’re getting away from that,” Wayne said. “They’re putting electric squibs in livers and blowing them up in slow motion and then having blood all over everything. I mean, it’s not that there’s more violence in pictures today. It’s that it’s done with such bad taste that people turn their stomachs, not their emotional insides are affected. It turns their stomach. I just don’t want to play anything petty or small or mean. I don’t mind being rough and tough and cruel, but in a big way, no little petty things.”

The actor believed that cinema should be family-friendly

Wayne had a very firm stance when it came to violence in the movies. The rating board once even reached out to the actor to get his input. However, Wayne didn’t want any part in it because he didn’t think a rating system was necessary. He believed that Hollywood should make motion pictures aimed at the whole family.

Wayne starred in a wide variety of movies that included violence, but they never reached the extremes of what he talked about while filming The Shootist. Today’s filmmaking would certainly give him a shock if he were to see how much some movies push the boundaries and make audiences squirm.

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John Wayne

John Wayne Once Confessed the ‘Stupidest Damn Thing I Ever Did in My Life’ Involving His Romance

Actor John Wayne had three wives over the course of his life. However, the couples would always go through various hardships. Wayne always publicly embraced family life and would combine his image as a father with his tough, Western one. The actor once confided in a friend and told them the “stupidest damn thing” he ever did over the course of his lifetime.

John Wayne married his second wife 3 weeks after his divorce became final

John Wayne and Esperanza Baur, the second wife over the course of his life smiling sitting in a car wearing hats

L-R: John Wayne and Esperanza ‘Chata’ Baur | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Marc Eliot’s American Titan: Searching for John Wayne touched on personal and professional aspects of the actor’s life. The divorce from his first wife, Josephine, was finalized on December 26, 1945. However, that certainly didn’t stop the actor from jumping into another relationship soon after. Wayne married Esperanza Baur, also called Chata, exactly three weeks after his divorce in the Unity Presbyterian Church of Long Beach, which is where his mother married her second husband, Sidney Preen. Actor Ward Bond was Wayne’s best man.

However, everything in Wayne’s life would change when he returned to Los Angeles after his honeymoon with his new wife. They purchased a new home in Van Nuys, California, and made sure to have a separate room for his mother-in-law. As a result, the newly-married couple started to have some difficulties.

John Wayne said that marrying Chata was the ‘stupidest damn thing I ever did in my life’

American Titan: Searching for John Wayne mentioned that Chata wanted to get a real role in a movie, but Wayne didn’t want her to have the life of a movie star. As a result, he told her that she belonged at home. Chata didn’t take this very well and turned to alcohol, developing an addiction.

Wayne ultimately turned to Bond to complain about Chata and his mother-in-law speaking Spanish and their desire for a bigger home. His new wife and her mother would often sleep in the same bed, forcing the actor to sleep on the couch in the living room.

Eliot wrote that Wayne took pride in his physical appearance and kept it in a specific condition for the camera. His ex-wife also took care of her physical appearance, but Chata refused to remove her facial hair, as she had a bit of a mustache. She also wouldn’t bathe very often and refused to shave her legs, which would make Wayne angry. Their arguments became increasingly frequent, which Wayne told Bond.

“Our marriage was like shaking two volatile chemicals in a jar,” Wayne said, admitting that marrying Chata was “the stupidest damn thing I ever did in my life!”

The actor would marry one final time

Wayne’s life moved on past Chata, as they divorced in 1954. Tragically, she died from a heart attack in 1961. Wayne married one final time to Pilar Pallete in the same year that he divorced Chata. They would ultimately remain married until the actor died in 1979, although they no longer lived together. The couple separated, but it was never legally so.

Meanwhile, Wayne became romantically involved with his former secretary, Pat Stacy, until his death.

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