Fast and Furious 9 is finally coming to U.S. cinemas on Friday, June 25, after it was delayed for months and months thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
And while Fast and Furious fans can’t wait to see it—after all, it’s the first new film in the franchise since The Fate of the Furious way back in 2017—for the cast, Fast and Furious 9 is bringing back more memories of their beloved costar, Paul Walker.
“I have more bad memories than good, because of all of the fun and all of the magic that we had going before Paul Walker’s untimely death,” Tyrese Gibson recently told Entertainment Weekly. “The trauma of losing him superseded all that.”
|Movie Name||Fast and Furious 9|
|Date Time||25 June 2021 (USA)|
|Writing||Daniel Casey, Justin Lin|
Vin Diesel also paid tribute to Walker earlier this month when he Instagrammed a photo that was shared with him by the late actor’s daughter, Meadow Walker. “Eternal brotherhood is a blessing beyond words,” Diesel wrote in the caption to the pic, which shows him and Walker smiling side by side. “Hope to make you proud.”
In honor of the late, beloved actor, here’s a look back at his life, his untimely death, his role in making the Fast and Furious franchise one of the most successful in movie history—and what could happen with his character in Furious 9.
How did Paul Walker die?
- Tragedy struck on the afternoon of November 30, 2013, when Walker and business partner Roger Rodas were killed in a one-car crash in Santa Clarita, California, after leaving a fundraiser organized by Walker’s charity, Reach Out Worldwide, which helps bring frontline responders to areas hit by disasters.
- Rodas was behind the wheel of his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT with Walker in the passenger seat when the vehicle clipped a lamp post and then a tree.
- The car burst into flames with both Walker and Rodas trapped inside. They both died at the scene.
- It was later determined that the car’s speed was the main cause of the crash. Authorities believe Rodas’ Porsche was traveling as fast as 100 mph in a 45 mph zone. An autopsy report stated that the 40-year-old Walker was killed by the “combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries.”
In a haunting coincidence, the stretch of road where Walker and Rodas died was known as a popular site for “drifting,” a street racing move popularized by the third film in the Fast and Furious franchise, 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
After the fatal crash, Walker’s friend Jim Thorp told reporters that Walker’s last words to Rodas before leaving his charity event were, “Hey, let’s go for a drive.” Thorp also said that, like his Fast and Furious character, Walker loved cars: “He lived his life and he died fast and furious… He loved speed, he loved cars, and he had to die this way. He died in a very fast car with his friend.”
Who did Paul Walker play in Fast and Furious?
Walker’s Fast and Furious character, Brian O’Conner, was one half of the franchise’s original team of protagonists alongside Diesel’s alter ego, street-racing titan Dominic Toretto. After a childhood marred by an absent father and a serious car accident he was involved in with his mother, O’Connor grew up to become an LAPD cop, albeit one who’s addicted to death-defying adrenaline rushes. He met Dom while deep undercover; ultimately, the two became like family—much like Walker and Diesel’s close friendship in real life.
How did they make Fast 7 without Paul Walker?
Walker’s death occurred just as Furious 7 was nearing the end of its shoot, prompting a months-long production pause. (The film’s release also got pushed back from July 2014 to April 2015.) Filming ultimately resumed with Walker’s two real-life brothers, Caleb Walker and Cody Walker, standing in as body doubles for the actor; CGI was also used to fill out his performance.
How did Paul Walker’s character die in Fast and Furious 7?
He didn’t, actually! Instead, the movie suggests that his character retired from the street-racing scene in order to enjoy a more normal, less risky life with his wife, Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their kid.
However, Furious 7 did give Walker a suitably emotional sendoff with an ending that really packed a wallop. As Walker and Brewster’s characters frolic on the beach with their child, the rest of the gang (including Diesel, Gibson, Ludacris and Michelle Rodriguez) wistfully look on while waxing nostalgic about their friend. Diesel then leaves, but Walker’s character catches up to him (on the open road, of course) and playfully asks, “You think you could leave without saying goodbye?” A Walker montage from his scenes throughout the franchise is then shown, and the movie ends with a simple dedication: “For Paul.”
Is Paul Walker coming back in Fast 9?
Yes, in some way or another. Frequent Fast Furious director Justin Lin (who helms F9 and is on tap for the upcoming 10th and 11th installments) told Variety recently that “you will feel the presence of Brian [O’Conner]” in F9. But exactly how? Lin’s keeping mum, or at least vague.
One rumor that’s floating around about Walker’s appearance comes courtesy of the movie-buff blog We Got This Covered, which has reported that “Walker will be seen near the end of the film, as we see the gang eating a meal, with Dom saying that they still have one more guest joining them. We then cut to Brian’s car outside of where they are and the fan favorite character sitting inside of it.”
And earlier this month, Brewster—who didn’t appear in F8—told Good Morning America that the new film honors Walker in a “beautiful” and “tender” way, adding, “Brian is a part of the fabric of Fast and Furious. And Paul, of course, is a huge part of that legacy.”