After Alec Baldwin‘s on-set incident today where one person died and another was injured, actor Brandon Lee’s official Twitter page expressed their condolences — though some people may be wondering why.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on Rust,” the tweet, shared by Brandon Lee’s Twitter page, which is run by his sister Shannon, read.
“No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”
Like his father, mixed martial arts master Bruce Lee, Brandon’s death occurred in tragic circumstances.
Aged only 28 at the time of his passing, the actor was only starting out his career in the entertainment industry.
Brandon had only eight days left of filming for 1994’s gothic superhero movie The Crow, where he was playing Eric Draven — Brandon got the role, which was meant to be a career-defining one projecting him past his father’s legacy, after Christian Slater and Johnny Depp dropped out.
Brandon had reportedly been doing his own stunts and had been working long days in a harsh environment, but was looking forward to marrying Eliza Hutton, his girlfriend, one week after filming was set to finish.
On March 30, 1993, however, actor Michael Massee — who was playing Funboy — aimed a gun, like what was written in the script, and shot a .44-calibre slug directly at Brandon.
When the director yelled “cut,” however, to end the scene, it was realised that Brandon wasn’t moving and was losing blood rapidly from a hole in his abdomen.
After being rushed to New Hanover Regional Medical Centre, Brandon underwent a six-hour operation but was pronounced dead on March 31 at 1.04am. An autopsy showed a bullet lodged near his spine.
Brandon was laid to rest four days later on April 3, 1993.
An investigation after the fact revealed that the gun that was used to fire at Brandon was actually also used two weeks earlier, and it was during this previous use that the bullets put in the gun were live bullets that had been modified into blanks — usually when filming, blanks are used instead of real bullets, with the main difference being that blanks have cardboard tips instead of lead tips, so damage can be minimised if there was any actual impact with the bullet on-set.
According to firearm safety specialist Dave Brown, prior to that fateful scene, the effects tech reportedly failed to properly check the gun before loading it, and also apparently failed to teach Massee how to “cheat the angle” — meaning Massee would not actually point the gun directly at Brandon when firing, but it would look like he was on-screen.
The gun that killed Brandon, which had been used previously on the set of The Crow, ended up having a lead tip from one of the modified live bullets lodged in the barrel — so when Massee fired what was in actual fact blank bullets at Brandon, the lead tip that was jammed in the barrel dislodged and hit Brandon in the stomach, ultimately killing him.
Brandon’s death was ruled an accident and no criminal charges were filed, however, Brandon’s mother Linda Lee Cadwell did file a civil suit against the studio, which was eventually settled out of court.
They ended up finishing The Crow, despite Brandon’s death.
Special effects house Dream Quest used unused footage of Brandon and digitally composited it onto certain scenes, and when that wouldn’t work for other scenes, stunt performer Chad Stahelski — who had been good friends with Brandon and had a similar build to him — stood in for Brandon, and then Dream Quest used previous footage to cut Brandon’s face and put it on Stahelski’s body.
Tragically, Brandon’s father Bruce died young as well.
On May 10, 1973, 32-year-old Bruce was doing a voice-dubbing session for Enter the Dragon at a Hong Kong film studio.
Bruce collapsed, and suffered from seizures and headaches, and was rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital.
At the hospital, Bruce was diagnosed with cerebral edema, which is excess fluid in the brain, the swelling of which was reduced with mannitol.
Two months later, on July 20, 1973, Lee was declared dead when he arrived via ambulance at Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital — earlier that day, his colleague, Taiwanese actress Betty Ting Pei, gave him the painkiller Equagesic after he compained of a headache.
Equagesic contained aspirin and tranquiliser meprobamate, the latter of which it’s reported that Lee had a fatal allergic reaction to — though his official cause of death was ruled a “death by misadventure.”
According to his autopsy, his brain had swollen by 13 per cent by the time of his death.
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