Universal Studios is planning to “retire” the Fast & Furious character portrayed by Paul Walker – Brian O’Conner. Sources close to The Hollywood Reporter claim that Brian O’Conner will not be killed off during Fast & Furious 7.
Alternatively, the studio is, allegedly, planning to provide O’Conner with a fitting send-off that will appease enduring fans of the high-octane, multi-billion dollar franchise. It seems studio bosses are planning to work with the pre-existing footage of Walker, shot prior to his demise on Nov. 30, 2013.
40-year-old Walker was killed with business partner and friend, Roger Rodas, during a violent car collision. Rodas was driving a red Porsche Carrera GT, with Walker in the Passenger’s seat, when it careened out of control and slammed into a light pole, before setting alight in an office park. The final coroner’s report – released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office – concluded that the car was traveling at around 100 miles per hour when it crashed; toxicology reports for the pair, meanwhile, were clean and no trace of alcohol or drugs was found.
Speculation over precisely how the studio aims to finish Walker’s final scenes remains rife. Many have suggested that Universal Pictures could utilize the splendors of technology and computer graphics to tie-up some of Walker’s final scenes.
In addition, attention was shifted onto Paul’s younger brother, Cody Walker. With many claiming Cody to bear striking resemblance to his famous sibling, the rumor – originally spawned by British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail – persisted for quite some time. It had been boldly proclaimed that sources close to the film’s development cycle had requested Cody’s participation in completing some of the late star’s unfinished scenes.
Describing Cody as “nearly identical” to Paul, the so-called source discussed the potential strategies that could be used to guarantee finalization of the uncompleted scenes:
“They can shoot Cody from behind and at distance and if it’s a shot they need Paul’s face in close up they can CGI it later on.”
The Daily Mail‘s source also claims that Cody formerly worked as a movie stuntman. It bears note, however, that there is no available evidence to suggest that Paul’s brother operated as a stuntman from IMDBPro, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) site, or any websites or online organizations representing stuntmen. Likewise, Cody Walker is yet to comment on the circulating rumors.
In the weeks following Paul’s tragic death, the film’s development team began assessing their options. Director James Wan, writer Chris Morgan and Universal Picture’s lead executive on the Fast & Furious franchise, Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, began sifting through footage featuring their lead star. Reportedly, the trio then conjured a plan to modify the existing script so that Walker could remain an integral part of the upcoming film, while ensuring he was appropriately written out; this would enable the highly lucrative franchise to continue in his absence.
The film’s release date, which was originally slated for a summer 2014 release, has now been pushed back to April 10, 2015. The news was originally announced by Paul Walker’s close friend, Vin Diesel, who took to Facebook to inform his fans. This was shortly followed by a statement from Universal Pictures, confirming the news:
“Continuing the global exploits in the franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead the returning cast of Fast & Furious 7, which will be released by Universal Pictures on April 10, 2015… James Wan directs this chapter of the hugely successful series, and Neal H. Moritz and Vin Diesel return as producers.”
Ultimately, it appears Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner, will be retired from Fast & Furious 7, with the franchise looking set to continue, thereafter.
By James Fenner