After the tragic death of actor Paul Walker in a fiery car crash last November, the future of Universal’s juggernaut Fast & Furious franchise was unexpectedly thrown into jeopardy. With Fast & Furious 7 almost exactly halfway through production, the studio was faced with a truly unenviable decision – recast Walker’s lead role (as cop-turned-criminal Brian O’Conner), write his character out of the story altogether and scrap already-filmed footage, or work around what Walker had filmed before his death to include the actor.
As the conversation ranged from starting anew to replacing the actor with his brother Cody Walker, Universal approached discussions about the future of the franchise with commendable caution. Eventually, a decision was made to delay the film from its 2014 summer release date until April of the following year. Now, it appears that Universal has come up with a plan for how to proceed with Fast & Furious 7 in light of Walker’s untimely death.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, footage shot by Walker before his death will be incorporated into the film following tweaks to Chris Morgan’s script that will allow for the character to make a graceful exit from the franchise. It’s very understandable that Universal doesn’t want to put Vin Diesel and other returning cast members through filming a death scene for Walker’s character, so news that they’ll retire the character without killing him makes a lot of sense. Besides, allowing O’Conner to ride off into the sunset, presumably with wife Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) by his side, is much more in keeping with the light, playful tone of the franchise.
As a casual fan of the Fast & Furious franchise, I feel that Universal made the right call by choosing to tweak the script in order to put Walker’s last work up on the big screen. The actor’s admirers will certainly relish the opportunity to see some of the last footage he filmed, and killing off a character as central as O’Conner (likely in a violent way) would come across to many as insensitive.
What do you think about the decision to retire, not kill, Walker’s character? Sound off in the comments section below!
Fast & Furious 7 will arrive on April 10th, 2o15.
Source: The Playlist