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The Last Movie Raul Julia Was In Before He Died

In the early 1970s, an accomplished stage actor named Raul Julia appeared at the movies for the first time. His turn as Marco in "The Panic in Needle Park" didn't exactly make him an instant household name, though it did allow him to work alongside the likes of Al Pacino and Kitty Winn and kick off what would become a remarkable run at the cinema. As the '70s became the '80s, Julia would partake in such projects as "A Life of Sin," "Tempest," and "Tequila Sunrise," which led him to mainstream fame in the 1990s.

As the final decade of the 20th century began, Raul Julia took on arguably his most memorable role of all: Gomez Addams. He first portrayed the character in 1991's "The Addams Family" and later returned in 1993 for its sequel, "Addams Family Values." Alongside cast members Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and more, Julia played a big hand in reinventing the titular family for a new generation. Seeing as many still consider this duology as the defining adaptation of Charles Addams' beloved comic, they clearly succeeded at their goal and then some.

Sadly, Raul Julia didn't get to enjoy his lasting impact on pop culture. On October 24, 1994, following a food poisoning-induced hospitalization and later a stroke, Julia died at age 54. Just under two months later, the final big-screen production he took part in made its premiere.

Julia signed on for Street Fighter for all the right reasons

Throughout the 1990s, moviegoers had the chance to check out some of the first live-action video game adaptations. 1993's "Super Mario Bros." led the pack with "Double Dragon" arriving second in late 1994 — neither performed well critically or financially. Nevertheless, Steven E. de Souza and Universal Pictures kept chugging along with their interpretation of the arcade classic "Street Fighter." The December 1994 flick featured iconic heroes like Colonel Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Chun-Li (Ming-Na Wen), but Raul Julia's charismatic portrayal of the villainous General M. Bison truly stole the show.

Considering that Julia had built a career on starring in dramas and more straightforward comedies — earning awards and acclaim at every turn –, his appearance in "Street Fighter" came somewhat out of left field. Not to mention, he'd been diagnosed with stomach cancer three years prior and was incredibly ill at this point in time. So, why did he ultimately decide to become M. Bison instead of staying home to rest? Simple, he wanted to star in a film that his two sons, who were big "Street Fighter" fans, could enjoy (via PBS).

"Street Fighter" is far from a cinematic masterpiece, though seeing Raul Julia put out one last scene-stealing performance in spite of his medical condition is inspirational, to say the least. In an interview with The Guardian, the actor behind Carlos Blanka, Robert Mammone, said, "He [Julia] wasn't a movie star, he wasn't a celebrity -– he was an actor in the true sense of the word." He adds that watching him work his magic in front of the camera is something that sticks with him to this day.

The legacy of Raul Julia as a person and an actor lives on nearly 30 years after his death, and it'll undoubtedly endure well beyond that as well.