Earlier this week, we reported that Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner would be returning for Fast & Furious 9. While the franchise has a record of bringing back former cast members, Walker’s return is slightly unexpected given that he tragically died in 2013. The actor made a posthumous appearance in Furious 7, appearing on screen with the help of WETA Digital and with his brothers Caleb and Cody as on-set stand-ins, but now we’ve heard that they’re seeking a fresh body double for additional scenes in the next film.
Furious 7 was generally judged to have handled the character sensitively and respected the actor’s memory, giving him a sendoff where he literally rode his car off into the sunset. So, my initial thinking was that if Brian O’Conner was making a comeback, it’d be in a short cameo or flashback. But our sources – the same ones who revealed that Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds had roles in Hobbs & Shaw well before the film released – are telling us that O’Conner will have more than just a small cameo. Word is we’ll see him and his wife, Jordana Brewster’s Mia Toretto, assisting the group in a mission against a Latino gangster connected to Cipher.
It’s unclear how big a part Brian will ultimately play, but it’ll definitely be more than just a quick cameo. At least, right now. Of course, with production still underway, things can always change, but according to current drafts of the script, you can expect Paul Walker’s fan favorite character to get in on the action a bit.
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Whatever the case, I just hope they can handle this right, as I thought Brian got a great end to his story in Furious 7. Him living out a happy life in retirement with his wife was especially touching given how much the cast and crew missed Walker.
It also seems that posthumous performances are set to become the norm in Hollywood, with the next big one being Carrie Fisher as General Leia in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Beyond that, we heard this week that James Dean, who died in 1955, will be making a return to the big screen in Finding Jack, a Vietnam movie about abandoned dogs. While I’m no Luddite, I can’t help but think that it’s a little ghoulish to be creating digital puppets of dead people and putting them in movies. But who knows, maybe in a decade this will just be another part of life?
Fast & Furious 9 speeds into theaters on May 22nd, 2020.