The tragic death of actor Paul Walker in a fiery car crash last month came as both a shock and a challenge to Universal. Walker had been filming Fast & Furious 7 alongside the rest of the cast, and his passing came after almost exactly half of his footage for the big-budget sequel was already in the can.
Understandably, the actor’s death has shaken up Fast & Furious 7‘s production schedule, and now star Vin Diesel has announced that the sequel will be shifted from its previous July 11th, 2014, release date to April 10th, 2015. Check out the actor’s Facebook post below:
After Walker’s death, Universal was faced with an unenviable set of choices – write Walker’s lead character Brian O’Conner out of the franchise and start from scratch, cast another actor to play the character, or kibosh the whole series then and there. Given how much of a money-maker Fast & Furious has been for the studio, option three seemed to be the most quickly discarded.
We previously reported that Universal was looking at the actor’s brother, Cody Walker, to take on the part, but news on that front has stalled. Universal is likely still awaiting Cody Walker’s decision, which must be an extremely difficult one for the 25-year-old former stuntman.
CGI would be used to make Cody look even more like his late older brother, but the two look similar enough that his acceptance would make the studio’s work a lot easier. Replacing lead actors midway through production is not unheard of; Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed by a prop gun on the set of The Crow, and a stunt double took his place with the help of special effects. A similar tactic was used during Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, when Oliver Reed died of a heart attack during production.
Chris Morgan is currently re-writing the script for Fast & Furious 7 in order to give Walker’s O’Conner a proper send-off, and filming is set to resume in January. More about Cody Walker’s decision and how Morgan is planning to deal with Walker’s character will emerge in the coming weeks, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted.
What tactic should Universal take to address Walker’s death? How do you feel about the franchise continuing on without him? Let us know in the comments section!
Fast & Furious 7 revs into theaters on April 10th, 2015.