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How Dennis Hopper, Natasha Richardson and others are re-animated.

How Dennis Hopper, Natasha Richardson and others are re-animated. (photo)

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Before Dennis Hopper passed away this weekend at the age of 74, you probably hadn’t heard of “Alpha and Omega,” the animated film that will be the legendary actor’s final performance. In it, he’ll voice a wolf named Tony, the elder statesman of a pack missing two of its younger wolves (voiced by Hayden Panettiere and Justin Long) who are relocated and must find their way back home.

It probably wasn’t the final performance that Hopper envisioned for himself, despite the fact that its trailer contains a reminder of his “Easy Rider” glory days with a watered down “Born to be Wild” cover as its soundtrack. The film did allow the actor a chance to not worry about his physical appearance and with the time it takes to produce an animated feature, his work could be finished long before the rest of it could be completed. The latter is a reason why many actors have been known to make their final on-screen appearance without ever showing their face.

A month prior to “Alpha and Omega”‘s theatrical release in September, the late Natasha Richardson will have her final screen credit in August’s non-animated “The Wildest Dream,” in which she voices Ruth Mallory, the wife of famed mountaineer George, in a documentary about his doomed 1924 climb of Mount Everest. Richardson’s voice will accompany her real-life husband Liam Neeson, who serves as the film’s narrator, and the film has been dedicated to her, a classy send-off for a classy actress.

06012010_OrsonWellesTransformers.jpgOthers haven’t been as lucky. The most infamous posthumous performance would have to be Orson Welles, who lent his stentorian voice to 1986’s “Transformers: The Movie” for Unicron, the gigantic, world-consuming fallen god whose lips didn’t move. (He would also appear in Henry Jaglom’s 1987 drama “Someone to Love,” but completed the voice work for “Transformers” days before he died.)

Likewise, the brilliant Anne Bancroft suffered the indignity of having her final performance arrive in “Delgo,” the dead-on-arrival sci-fi epic that was released three years after her death and was notable only for the fact that it was dedicated to her, had the worst wide release of any movie ever and bore some similarities to “Avatar.”

And we’re still waiting on Marlon Brando’s last hurrah in “Big Bug Man,” which fulfilled the actor’s dream of playing a woman; for the film in which he plays Mrs. Sour, a candy factory proprietor, Brando reportedly wore a dress and a blond wig to record his part less than a month before he passed in 2004.

Incidentally, the most elegant tribute to a late voice actor perhaps came with someone who wasn’t a household name, but was famous in animation circles — Joe Ranft, who was a key part of Pixar’s creative team as a storyboard artist before dying tragically in a car accident in 2005, had three parts in 2005’s “Cars” and received a brief montage of the various characters he voiced in other films (Heimlich in “A Bug’s Life,” Wheezy the Penguin in “Toy Story 2”) in his honor during the closing credits (see the below video at the 1:14 mark).

Ranft, who was credited as a co-director with John Lasseter on the film, surely had many other great films in him at the time of his untimely death, but was afforded something too few others receive: a chance to go out on top.

[Photos: “Crash,” Lionsgate, 2008; “Alpha and Omega,” Lionsgate, 2010; “F for Fake,” Janus Films, 1973; “Transformers: The Movie,” DEG, 1986]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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