Paul Walker’s tragic death in 2013 looked like it might have brought the Fast & Furious franchise to a premature end, especially when the ending to the seventh installment gave his character a fitting sendoff, reducing audiences around the world to floods of tears in the process. A combination of existing footage, visual effects and using Walker’s brothers as body doubles allowed the cast and crew to finish the movie, paying tribute to one of their closest friends in the process.
Even without one of the original stars, the series has continued and gone from strength to strength, with The Fate of the Furious upping the ante to frankly ridiculous levels when it comes to the action sequences, while Hobbs & Shaw earned over $750 million at the box office to establish a separate spinoff franchise that exists independently of The Fast Saga.
Every time a new movie is in the works, rumors begin to circulate that they’ll be using technology to bring Walker back for a brief cameo appearance, which definitely isn’t a route that the filmmakers should ever travel, but in a recent interview, Tyrese Gibson admitted that they probably would have abandoned the franchise altogether rather than continue to make new entires without the blessing of his family.
“People will say Paul is not in it, so why are you guys continuing? That’s exactly why we’re continuing, because we made the shift in my mind saying we have to do this for Paul. But the biggest decision came from us talking to Paul’s family and them giving us their blessing. The last movie that Paul did was 7, and then to see Paul’s father, mother and brothers at the premiere of The Fate of the Furious, it just sends the message that they’re fully supporting us every step of the way.”
You can tell how important a role Paul Walker continues to play in the Fast & Furious franchise seven years after his death, even after his character Brian O’Conner has been officially retired in canon. The cast and crew make these movies to honor his memory, not just the fans, and Vin Diesel is frequently paying tribute to his dearly departed friend on social media to this day. As such, it seems fitting that they’d ask his family before deciding to move forward.