GFT Blog: Best Swan Songs


Inspired by Harry Dean Stanton’s delightfully cantankerous final role in Lucky, currently playing at GFT, we have been thinking about which ‘last performances’ have stuck with us the most. Read on for the choices of some of the GFT team, and get in touch with your pick of the actor or character whose last appearance you just can’t forget.

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Lucky (John Carroll Lynch, 2017)

Nothing much happens in Lucky, but it features Harry Dean Stanton in his final role, and he could pretty much do anything and I'd watch it. At its most adorable when Stanton plays the cantankerous old so-and-so - his swift dissection of the TV show Deal Or No Deal is so spot-on - or in his occasional chats with his bar buddy Howard (a very funny David Lynch), who provides news updates on an absconded pet tortoise. At its sweetest when Stanton’s character spontaneously bursts into song at a Mexican fiesta or when a concerned waitress pays him a home visit and gives him the longest warmest hug before departing. In that moment, we are all that waitress. 

David Gattens, Commercial Director

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Logan (James Mangold, 2017) 

In 2000 there was an outcry as 6ft 3 Hugh Jackman was cast as 5ft 3 X-Men team member Wolverine. Through 17 years of playing the character, including a three-word cameo which stole the show in X-Men: Days of Future Past, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else playing the fast-healing, gruff-talking clawed superhero. But in 2017, Hugh Jackman hung up Wolverine’s colours in a fittingly beautiful and brutal swan song that paid homage to his relationship with the character and the fans of the franchise.

Becca McSheaffray, Children and Young People Coordinator

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Furious 7 (James Wan, 2015)

The Fast and the Furious franchise definitely isn’t highbrow cinema nor is it consistent throughout. However, if like me you enjoy dumb action movies then it doesn’t get much better than this. Tragically, Paul Walker was killed in a car accident during a break in filming but Furious 7 gave him a send-off fitting for someone who dedicated a significant portion of his career to the franchise. Bringing it full circle, it culminates where it began with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker driving side by side into the sunset as Vinny D’s touching last words in honour of his friend reverberate over the final scene: “No matter where you are, whether it’s a quarter mile away or halfway across the world, you’ll always be with me. And you’ll always be my brother.”  

Chris Kumar, Programme Assistant

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Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, 2017)

I’m still getting over quite how phenomenal David Lynch’s return to the small screen was – it still feels like it’s ruined all other TV for me. But as well as that, the series marked the final appearances for several unforgettable screen talents. Amongst those was Catherine Coulson, whose performance as Margaret Lanterman, or The Log Lady, is one of the many uniquely strange highlights of Lynch and Mark Frost’s singular series. Coulson seems to have been something of a kindred spirit to Lynch, first collaborating with him as part of the crew on his 1977 debut Eraserhead, and then creating with him her perfect role as the wise, seer-like Log Lady. Her scenes in Twin Peaks: The Return were shot when she was in an advanced state of illness, and the emotion imbued in her character’s final farewell is devastating.

Paul Gallagher, Programme Manager   


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