Is Paul Walker's Brian O'Conner returning to FAST & FURIOUS?

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As the Fast & Furious movies have evolved from being just about street racing to instead now present themselves as big budget, globe-trotting action crime caper blockbusters with some car porn sprinkled in, the cast have found themselves getting upgrades as well. No longer content to just have attitudes and drive fast, this colourful “family” – as star Vin Diesel likes to remind us every chance he and a Corona product placement can get – have pretty much turned into superheroes as they keep defying the laws of physics in their vehicular adventures. And if there’s one thing about superheroes I know to be true, it’s this: Superheroes never stay dead. And it appears that Diesel and his family are maybe following suit here as well.

As you will probably remember, during a break from shooting Fast & Furious 7 in November 2013, franchise co-lead Paul Walker was tragically killed in a car accident. With only half the production on the film wrapped at that point, Universal Pictures and director Justin Lin had the unenviable task of figuring out a way to finish their movie without one of their biggest stars and closest friends. And they succeeded brilliantly. Using a combination of spliced in deleted footage from previous films, some CGI trickery, and also Paul’s brothers Caleb and Cody Walker acting as his double, Lin and co were able to give his character a heartfelt, tear-jerking send-off that allowed his character of Brian O’Conner to ride off into the sunset with his family, safely out of this international criminal life.

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But it seems that he may be riding back from that sunset in future movie, as Caleb Walkre revealed to Entertainment Tonight that Diesel had been chatting with him about the possibility of once again doubling for his brother.

“I had a phone call with Vin [Diesel] for about an hour and we really discussed this a while back. He wanted [our] blessing. [He asked if and when we thought it] would be acceptable to maybe bring Paul’s character back… to really kind of let his fans know he’s still out there.”

So basically we should be expecting a new Fast & Furious to feature a digital Paul Walker jumping around from car to car, taking out bad guys as he did in the past, but rather just checking in with the character in a nice moment for fans. As I count myself in that number, I’m pretty cool with that. As Cody Walker adds,  “Universal wants to make sure to be respectful of Paul and his image too, and his family.” This is all about closure.

And according to Caleb, that’s something that this entire unexpected process actually gave him and the rest of the Walker family, as by pretending to be him, they learned things about Paul that they never knew.

“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 [of] Paul was really special.”

“We had a really good talk with Vin [Diesel]. Vin is like the godfather, he really is, and he kind of became our godfather in a weird way. He obviously knew Paul so well, he shared things with us that Cody and I [didn’t know.] Paul kept a lot of things about work kind of quiet with his family and friends, and so we were able to learn some things through [his co-stars].”

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Caleb and Cody also mention that Paul’s soon to be 18 year old daughter Meadow is “doing a lot better” now, and they’re all “very protective over her”. They will also be continuing to ensure that Paul’s charity Reach Out WorldWide – it was actually at one of the charity’s events that Paul’s accident occurred – keeps thriving, with Cody and his wife Felicia now heading it up.

As for the Fast & Furious movies itself, whether Paul is in the upcoming Fast 8 or not, we should be getting the first trailer for it in November. Besides for franchise regulars Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Elsa Pataky, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Lucas Black returning, Furious 7‘s Jason Statham and Kurt Russell will also be back. Statham played the lead villain in that film, so it will interesting to see how he fits into the new movie, especially since we already know that it will be Charlize Theron who will in fact be the big bad this time around. Also joining the cast will Scott Eastwood as one of Russell’s proteges as well as Helen Mirren in an unconfirmed role.

F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, The Italian Job, Law Abiding Citizen) is directing Fast 8, which is scheduled for release on April 14, 2017. Fast & Furious 9 and 10 have also already been penciled into Universal’s calendar for a respective April 19, 2019 and April 2, 2021 release date.

Last Updated: September 19, 2016

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