In November 2013, actor Paul Walker unexpectedly died in a fiery car crash in Santa Clarita, California while on break from filming Fast & Furious 7. His tragic and untimely death left the fate of the latest film in the franchise in limbo as Universal Pictures decided how to move forward with prouduction.
Only half of the film had been completed, so any plan the studio made had to take this into account as well as respect the circumstances surrounding the actor's death. First, there were rumors that the whole film would have to be rewritten, then there was an idea floating around that Walker's younger brother would be used as a body double along with CGI.
Apparently, the truth now lies somewhere in the middle. According to NY Daily News, "They have hired four actors with bodies very similar to Paul’s physique, and they will be used for movement and as a base. Paul’s face and voice will be used on top using CGI."
Shooting on Fast & Furious 7 has been delayed since last fall until this April, undoubtedly to allow the cast to grieve but also to allow time for rewrites and reworking. Because if Universal Pictures wants to try and mask Walker's absence from the film, then they'll also need to spend as little time as possible focusing on his character, Brian O’Conner, even if they do intend to give him a proper sendoff in the end.
Body doubles and CGI are techniques that have been used before on films and television to varying success. After Brandon Lee died on the set of The Crow in an accidental shooting, the film was only completed by using a stunt double and CGI. And on The Sopranos, Tony's mother was able to have one last scene with her son thanks to CGI after actress Nancy Marchand suddenly passed away.
While it's true that CGI can be worth it when used sparingly, it's often distracting in greater amounts. It's still unclear how much Walker had left to film at the time of his death and whether his role has been reduced in subsequent rewrites, but it would seem his part is still substantial enough if it warrants four body doubles.
What do you think about body doubles and CGI being used to recreate Brian O'Conner? Let us know in the comments.
Fast & Furious 7 is currently scheduled to release in theaters on April 10th, 2015.
Source: NY Daily News