Paul Walker’s legacy will live on in The Fast and Furious franchise.
Back in 2001, no one would have believed that The Fast and The Furious, a humble street racing film with a plot that unashamedly ripped off Point Break, would become the global box office sensation it is today. The third film in the franchise, Tokyo Drift, nearly wrote off the series for good when it under-performed both commercially and critically. And yet here we are this week with Fast and Furious number eight set to smash box office records yet again. Furious 7 became the sixth highest grossest film of all time – but the film nearly didn’t happen.
It's sad but true that a lot of Furious 7’s success can be attributed to the untimely death of lead actor Paul Walker, who died in a fatal car accident. Recently, The Fate of the Furious producer Neal Moritz explained in a podcast how Walker’s death nearly led to Furious 7 being cancelled completely. “Honestly, when that happened, when his passing happened, when that accident happened, we were like, 'We're not gonna finish the movie',” he said. “We'd done over half the movie. We were like 'We can't finish the movie. We just can't do it.' And Universal said take some time. Think about it. See what you guys want to do. We didn't know what to do. We didn't know what we could do or what we should do.”
No one would have blamed the producers if the film was scrapped in respect of Walker’s death. Ultimately, however, the decision was made to film a different ending that wrote Walker’s character Brian O'Conner out. This could have been disastrous if it wasn’t handled sensitively, but the final scene where he drives off into the sunset with the song “See You Again” playing was a sincere and touching tribute to the late actor that reduced many moviegoers to tears. “It wasn't until Chris Morgan came up with the idea at the end of the road splitting that we knew we had a way, a path to the end of this movie," Moritz continued. He's right - it was the perfect ending.
Then we had to work our way backwards and figure out with the footage we already had existing and with the special effects things we were able to do, that we could make that story work. That scene, in combination with that song, it was perfect.” Paul Walker’s legacy will no doubt live on future Fast and Furious movies, even if the franchise will never be the same without him. The Fate of the Furious was recently released in cinemas and apparently makes several references to Walker’s character.