The cursed Hollywood film: 4 actors signed up for a comedy. They all died tragically young.

There are plenty of Hollywood movies said to be cursed. There’s the Poltergeist trilogy. The whole Superman franchise. And then there’s the curse of Atuk.

Atuk is a movie that has never been made. It’s a “fish out of water” story about an Inuit in New York, based on a 1963 satirical Canadian novel called The Incomparable Atuk. A string of actors who were in talks for the lead role died prematurely, leading to the belief that the script was cursed.

John Belushi was the first big name attached to the script. According to the book Hollywood Myths: The Shocking Truths Behind Film’s Most Incredible Secrets, the former Saturday Night Live cast member had the script sitting on his coffee table at the time of his death.

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“Belushi had supposedly expressed interest in the project before he went on his final bender,” the book says.

Belushi died on March 5, 1982, due to drug intoxication. He was 33. A woman, Cathy Smith, who was hanging out with Belushi at the time of his death, admitted to having injected him with a mix of heroin and cocaine.

Later, controversial stand-up comedian Sam Kinison signed on to play the lead in Atuk. But eight days after filming started, in early 1988, it was shut down. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Kinison said his manager told him he could rewrite the script, but he later found out he couldn’t.


“I did not walk off the picture,” he insisted. “They shut it down. I was very professional. I even went to dog-sled school so I was prepared for the part. They tried to find someone to replace me and only when they couldn’t did they shut it down.”

Kinison was sued by the movie’s producers. He died on April 10, 1992, when his car was hit by a pickup truck driven by a 17-year-old who’d been drinking. His wife, Malika Souiri, who he’d married in Vegas just six days earlier, was also in the car but survived. Kinison was 38.

After that, the script was sent to John Candy. Candy, who’d starred in a string of hits, including Planes, Trains And Automobiles and Uncle Buck, apparently expressed an interest in it. But while on a break from shooting Wagons East in Mexico, Candy was found dead in his bed. It was March 4, 1994, and Candy was 43. No autopsy was done, but he was believed to have died of a heart attack, as he had a family history of heart disease and had struggled with his weight for most of his life.

“His father had a heart attack, his brother had a heart attack,” his son Chris said recently. “It was in the family. He had trainers and would work at whatever the new diet was. I know he did his best.”

Next to be considered for the lead in Atuk was Chris Farley. According to Hollywood Myths, he was actually “enthusiastic” about the script.

The former Saturday Night Live cast member was in demand in Hollywood, despite having a serious drug problem. He’d recorded almost all the dialogue for the lead role in Shrek and was set to star in a third Ghostbusters movie when his brother John found him dead in his apartment, on December 18, 1997, after a four-day bender. He was 33.


An autopsy showed his death was due to an overdose of cocaine and morphine, with the narrowing of his arteries also being a factor.

A dancer called Heidi Hauser was apparently the last person to see him alive, later telling the tabloids that she’d snapped a photo of him lying on the floor, still breathing, as she left his apartment.

Belushi, Kinison, Candy, Farley: four talented, funny guys, taken tragically young. Their deaths weren’t exactly mysterious – a couple of them weren’t even surprising – but before long, some people started making a link with the movie script.

In 1999, the Los Angeles Times published an article titled “The Atuk Curse”.

“The latest tale to join the burgeoning ranks of haunted Hollywood lore is the buzz that surrounds a decade-old script named Atuk, a comedy about an Eskimo,” the story read.

The story quoted Tod Carroll, the screenwriter who’d adapted the novel for the big screen. He claimed the string of deaths was “either coincidence or practical explanation”.

“I’m not a superstitious person,” Carroll said, “and it doesn’t have any meaning to me.”

By then, it looked like Atuk wasn’t likely to get made.

“With the right actor and right tone, it may have been a nice movie,” Carroll said.

Or maybe not. If you want to read the script for yourself, you can check it out here… if you dare.