A small family funeral is being held this weekend for Fast and Furious star Paul Walker, who was killed in a car accident at the end of November. Fast and Furious 7, which had not yet finished filming when the tragedy occurred, has been delayed from its originally planned summer 2014 release date and Universal Pictures has put production on hold while the filmmakers work out how best to continue without Walker.
It's a dilemma that has been faced a number of times in Hollywood's history: River Phoenix's final film Dark Blood, which was originally abandoned after his death, was released last year with missing scenes replaced with the director's narration. Actor Brandon Lee also famously died on the set of The Crow after an accidental shooting, after which the film was eventually completed through the use of a stunt double and CGI.
Now indications have arisen that Fast and Furious 7 may end up being finished in a similar manner to The Crow, with the added difference that Paul Walker's stunt double will be his own younger brother, Cody Walker. The Daily Mail reports that Fast and Furious 7's producers have approached Cody Walker to take his brother's place in the film for certain scenes, since the differences between them would not be noticeable from behind or from a distance, and close-ups could be managed through the use of CGI.
This news comes with the important caveat that the Daily Mail has only a single unnamed "source close to the production" testifying to Cody Walker's possible involvement, and even then it's a "maybe." We'd recommend holding off on accepting this as fact until another outlet or Universal Pictures can corroborate the story.
It's honestly hard to judge how Universal is likely to approach completion of the film without knowing how many of Brian O'Conner's scenes Walker had already shot before his death and the nature of the scenes that remain unfinished (though rumors suggest he had mainly filmed static character scenes rather than action sequences). Screenwriter Chris Morgan was recently said to be working on a rewrite of the current script, working with the footage already shot, that would give Brian a send-off without the massive expense of starting the whole movie again from scratch.
Looking at the photos of Cody Walker included in the Daily Mail article, there's definitely a strong family resemblance between the two brothers that is at least on par with that of stunt double similarity (Cody Walker has actually worked as a movie stuntman before). He could very feasibly be shown in wider shots, and it may be possible to find another actor with a similar voice to complete additional dialogue for Brian.
It's certainly a sad situation for Walker's family, his colleagues and his fans alike. We'll keep you updated on the production of Fast and Furious 7 as more news become available.
Fast & Furious 7 is currently in a holding pattern.