When news broke of the sudden and tragic death of actor Paul Walker on November 30, 2013, fans around the world were stunned. He had been half-way through filming on the highly anticipated Fast & Furious 7, and lovers of that franchise wondered how the studio would handle the catastrophic event. Rumours swirled, with some commentators even speculating that the project might shelved – leaving the future of the film series in jeopardy. Those rumours can be cleared up now, however, since it is clear that Universal plan to complete the film and “retire” Walker’s character – allowing the franchise to continue.
Ain’t It Cool News highlighted the confirmations from production sources, that found their way to The Hollywood Reporter and the New York Daily News. It seems that Universal have found a way to achieve their preferred aim – to tweak the film in such a way as to allow the character of Brian O’Connor (Walker) to still appear, while allowing the franchise to continue into the future. To facilitate this, they have apparently hired four actors of similar physical build to the late Paul Walker, with a view to completing his newly revised scenes. Walker’s face and voice will then be applied to those actors in post-production. This will give the filmmakers – director James Wan and writer Chris Morgan – the chance to “retire” him in a way that honours the franchise veteran, and satisfies fans at the same time.
Walker’s character is an integral part of the Fast And Furious franchise, his character having appeared in all of the films, except the third (Tokyo Drift). Fans were understandably nervous about the prospect of proceeding without him, while executives must have been nervous about not – given the huge commercial success of the multi-billion dollar series. It seems hopes are high that this chosen course of action will please all parties, and further cement confidence in the films moving forward.
While the release date has been rescheduled for April 10th, 2015 – presumably to allow time for the additional CGI work in post-production – we wait to see how this production choice will be received. While it is certainly not unprecedented, having been used – albeit briefly – in high profile films such as Gladiator, there is the grim possibility that the process will be a distraction.
The pressure on the script for Fast & Furious 7 just increased exponentially, then – to keep cinema-goers engaged and engrossed in the film to the extent that they are not simply looking for the joins in the special effects.
Source: Ain't It Cool News