Four years ago, Neal Moritz and Furious 7 director James Wan were left facing a tricky conundrum when series stalwart Paul Walker (Brian O’Connor) tragically died mid-way through production on Universal’s blockbuster sequel.
Soon after production ground to a halt, Wan and his braintrust pulled together to make the best out of a very bad situation, and the end result is Furious 7‘s bittersweet finale, one in which Vin Diesel’s on-screen petrolhead Dominic Toretto rides alongside Walker’s fan-favorite one last time, before a fork in the road takes each vehicle – and, by effect, each driver – in opposite directions to the tune of Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.”
It was a fitting send-off for both Brian O’Connor and Paul Walker’s legacy, opening up a relatively blank slate for Straight Outta Compton‘s F. Gary Gray, who took the reins on The Fate of the Furious as James Wan made tracks toward Warner Bros. and the Aquaman solo movie. But as Gray tells Screen Rant, there was a time when Universal considered incorporating a CGI Paul Walker into the franchise’s eighth instalment.
We had hundreds of conversations about the best way, the classiest way to handle and address Paul’s legacy in this franchise. You know, there are multiple ways you can go. You could create a digital Paul and make him more of a character. You could leave him out and pretend that he’s in this world anymore. These are all conversations we had and we felt like the choice we made respected his legacy the best. And my understanding is that his family was really happy with how we treated him.
Brian O’Connor is still woven into the fabric of the Fast franchise, and those of you who have seen The Fate of the Furious will know that Walker’s character is referenced in passing. Even still, the decision to shoehorn a CGI Paul Walker into Fast 8 would surely have proven controversial among the franchise’s impassioned fanbase, even if F. Gary Gray’s billion-dollar hit was the first F&F movie not to feature Walker whatsoever.
I think that we ran into the possibility of people maybe feeling like “well Paul’s in this movie” and it would be the first time you would see a Fast and Furious without Paul. And so there’s no guarantee that that same audience is going to show up. You can’t make the assumption.
The Fate of the Furious races onto Blu-ray and DVD on July 11th, and is considered the first movie in the final trilogy. As things stand, the ninth and tenth instalments of Universal’s mega-franchise have been slated for April 19th, 2019 and April 2nd, 2021, respectively.
Source: Screen Rant