The tragic death of Paul Walker was a huge blow to his family, friends and fans around the world. The event also necessitated a delay in the release of Fast and Furious 7, the latest installment of Walker's signature franchise, as Universal Studios, the producers and director James Wan revised the script to include a respectful retirement of Walker's character, Brian O'Connor.
Now that we know their general plan, resulting in a delay of the film until April 2015, news on the Fast and Furious has mostly gone silent. The more recent news has more or less overshadowed many other aspects of the production, including the presence of Death Proof star Kurt Russell, whose as-yet-undisclosed character will be introduced in Fast and Furious 7 with a storyline which will supposedly carry over to the eighth film.
Now, in an interview with Roth Cornet at IGN, Kurt Russell has offered some insight about the film's shooting schedule, what drew him to the franchise (as opposed to The Expendables series), and the nature of his character in Fast and Furious 7.
When asked about the film's schedule in relation to his character, he responded by saying:
"I've been told April, maybe May, maybe Dubai, maybe Atlanta, maybe LA."
As for his character's involvement beyond the next movie, Russell's comments are somewhat surprising. The narrative of the next two films may still be evolving. As for whether or not his character will be involved in Fast and Furious 8, Russell said:
"That's going to be interesting, because the character has been purposely been treated in a certain way so that he can or can't. The 'can' will be an interesting stretch. It works, because I understand what it is and we came up with it. It's like, 'Oh, wow! That's cool!'
"If he doesn't, then he doesn't. If he gets killed, he gets killed. That will be for them to determine. I just wanted to be able to work with them making the best possible character to either be sad he doesn't move on or say, 'Yeah, I want this character to move on - we need this character to move on.' That sort of thing. I don't know what the situation, with Paul dying, does to that. I don't know."
Russell's character was said to have been introduced as some kind of father-figure to Walker's Brian O'Connor. When asked just how much that aspect of his character has changed, Russell replied: "He's really more connected to Vin's character."
We still have had no specifics about Russell's character. When asked if he was playing some kind of cop who was either working with Diesel or maybe on his trail, Russell answered:
"No. The character that I play is presented as one thing, but you have a big suspicion that he's another. Vin's character is - it's really the family around Vin that's going to be suspecting 'Why is he involved with this guy?' It was always going to be Vin's character who he was a father figure to - but he's either a good one or a bad one."
Russell also commented on what drew him to the Fast and Furious franchise in the first place. One reason he wanted to be involved is that he it was "interesting how they've stayed beneath the radar and had such success. I admire that."
As a veteran of such cult-beloved action movies as Escape from New York, Stargate, Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing, one would expect Russell to have at least been approached for Sylvester Stallone's throwback action franchise The Expendables. According to Russell:
"Yeah. I mean, I'm glad Sly's done well with this. He's a great person. The fellas all seem to have a good time. I've never seen any of them. It's not a beat I get. It's like looking backwards to me. There's something about 'Fast & Furious.' It has that mystery to me - and it's for a funny audience, you know? It's for a 15 to... 30? I think now you can take that from 15 to 45, and I think that's what's interesting about that. I like the way Vin talks about it - it's a saga. It's not a series, it's a saga. I think that Paul dying is a part of that saga."
Russell has a point about the interestingly broad appeal of Fast and Furious - the movies span a demographic that only a handful of other blockbuster franchises can match. Fast and Furious 6's audience was one of that year's most diverse, with Latinos representing 32% of viewers, women were 49%, and 57% of the film's attendees over the age of 25.
Russell also offered some comments on Paul Walker and his passing. Russell did not know him well, but had this to say on where Walker was in his career:
"He was a great guy, he was a terrific person. How can you not like that guy? Everything about him was cool. Yeah, and he was just coming into a part of his life I think where he was beginning to say, 'Well, I've kinda got my life going great. What is it artistically I wanna do? Now I'm comfortable to say, let me tear it apart and find out. Let me tear this engine apart and find out what's there.' Boom. Lights out. Terrible. Life! Life..."
Check out the full interview here.
Russell is bound to prove a welcome addition to the Fast and Furious franchise, as he has been under-seen in theaters lately. As for the comments about Fast and Furious 7's story, it's likely that the narrative leading into the eighth film is still being smoothed out following Walker's passing. Russell's involvement beyond the seventh film would not be surprising, given his charisma and fan-beloved status.
Kurt Russell will be seen in the con man comedy The Art of the Steal, co-starring Jay Baruchel and Matt Dillon, which is available for streaming ahead of its March 14 release in U.S. theaters (it was previously released in Canada back in September).
Fast and Furious 7 will be released on April 10, 2015.