The sudden and tragic death of actor Paul Walker in 2013 not only had long lasting effects on his family, it also threw the production of Furious 7 into turmoil, creating doubts as to whether the film, or even the franchise, could be completed without him. After an understandable delay, the cast and crew decided to press forward, bringing in Walker's brothers, Caleb and Cody, as stand-ins and rewriting the script to give Paul a respectful, heartfelt, tearful, emotional goodbye scene.
Fans turned out in droves to watch Walker's final film and in a way, pay their respects to the beloved actor, making Furious 7 the sixth highest-grossing film of all time at the box office. However, without the assistance of Caleb and Cody as standins, it would have been difficult for Universal to even complete the movie. The brothers recently discussed their feelings on "becoming Paul" and how it may have helped them cope with the grieving process.
Here is what the pair offered Entertainment Tonight, with respect to that:
We got to understand more about Paul and what he was all about. We had to share Paul with a lot of people, in a weird way. He was gone a lot, he was filming, so we missed him. Sometimes at the holidays he wasn't always there, you know? He tried. We'd see him on set, we visited a few times, but to kind of get that closure, and understanding...Paul was really special.
While Paul may be gone from this world, his character Brian O'Conner may not be completely gone from the Fast & Furious franchise. Caleb continued by saying that Vin Diesel called him recently to get their thoughts on whether it "would be acceptable to maybe bring Paul's character back…to really kind of let his fans know he's still out there." Additionally, Cody noted, "Universal wants to make sure to be respectful of Paul and his image too, and his family." So it appears, that Paul Walker could still be a part of either next year's Fast 8 and/or the franchise in the future, if only via cameos.
There's little doubt that fans of the Fast & Furious franchise will go to see Fast 8 and the franchise's remaining installments - and bringing back Walker's character, even for a brief moment, could be a nice tribute to him and a good way to carry on his memory. Some cynics might say it's just a cash grabbing ploy by the studio to make money by standing atop his grave, but with Vin Diesel initiating the conversation, that's most likely not the case. The on-screen talk about the characters being a "family" rolled over into real life, where, after seven movies and fourteen years of working together, the cast actually did become as close as family.
While Caleb and Cody Walker don't have much in the way of an acting career (though Cody had a role in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage starring Nicolas Cage and Thomas Jane), the possibility of writing one or both of them into the franchise as O'Conner's brother(s) would be an interesting twist to watch unfold. Whichever way they decide to go with the idea, as long as it's as respectful and classy, and Paul Walker's family is fine with it, then fans should be as well.
Fast 8 opens in U.S. theaters on April 17th, 2017, followed by Fast and Furious 9 on April 19th, 2019, and Fast and Furious 10 on April 2nd, 2021.
Source: Entertainment Tonight