Leo O'Brien, a star of the cult classic "The Last Dragon," died in New York on Wednesday at age 41, family and friends said.
The cause of death was not released. An autopsy was inconclusive, and the medical examiner’s office is awaiting toxicology results.
His friend and former castmate Taimak Guarriello said only, “He’s been having a little problem.”
"He's been through a lot of tough times," Guarriello said. "It's unfortunate."
O’Brien, who was trying to put his checkered past behind him and resurrect an acting career, was shot three times in Harlem a year ago after an argument with an acquaintance.
“I’m a fast healer — kind of a mutant,” he told the Daily News at the time. “I’ve been told if this happened to someone else, they’d be dead.”
In 'The Last Dragon,' O'Brien starred as Richie, the charismatic little brother of lead character, Bruce Leroy.
After hearing about the shooting last September, Guarriello reached out to O’Brien, visited him in the hospital and rekindled their friendship.
The two began filming a short indie flick a month later, their first collaboration since the 1985 martial arts movie produced by Berry Gordy.
O’Brien — who ran several businesses after a string of arrests that landed him in jail for eight years — was cast as a charming Harlem gangster.
The movie has not been released, but Guarriello said he had hoped to include O'Brien in other upcoming projects.
"He was very talented," he said. "It wasn't like he lost his talent."
In “The Last Dragon,” Guarriello played the lead character, Bruce Leroy, and O’Brien played his charismatic little brother, Richie.
"This is a movie that touched a lot of hearts and he was wonderful in it," said Guarriello.
Jeanne Noonan for News
Leo O' Brien of 'The Last Dragon' with daughter Sharoya Russell in hospital.
"I think people should remember him as the talent that he was," he said. "He was a sweetheart and he had a good sense of humor."
Guarriello said he learned of his pal’s death from O’Brien’s son, Drew, who mourned his father on Facebook with the message: “R.I.P to my father Leo Obrien. You will be dearly missed. I love you.”