“That was a serious conversation that took place, that we were not going to finish [Furious 7] because we just didn’t feel right about it,” says Neal Moritz – who has produced all eight Fast and Furious movies to date – about the immediate aftermath of Paul Walker’s death.
It’s been three and a half years since the tragic death of Paul Walker. And, to its credit, Furious 7 ends with a touching homage to Walker as he drives one last time into the sunset – an ending that left many, many people in tears (myself included).
“You’re in good company,” says Moritz. “Because every time I saw 7, I cried at the end of that. It’s weird because when that happened, Paul’s unfortunate passing, we really considered stopping the movie – like not finishing the movie.” Motitz continues, “But once we got a tiny bit of distance from it, we knew that Paul would have wanted us to finish. And we needed to do it for him. And most importantly, as much as we were grieving, the audience was grieving as well and they needed the closure of 7. They needed the closure of his character.”
Chris Morgan, who has written every Fast movie since Tokyo Drift, remembers how hard it was to complete Furious 7.
“After 7, after the tragedy with Paul – and kind of everyone linking arms and pulling off – there was every reason not to complete that movie. But everyone just kind of did a superhuman effort and everybody just put their hearts on the line and we just did it – and we’re all really proud of it. It’s probably the hardest moviemaking any of us will ever do, and it was also the most rewarding because I think at the end it gave the audience something – and I think Paul would have been happy with it.”
Furious 7 ends with Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner pulling up next to Dominic Toretto one last time. The two accelerate together, but eventually O’Conner takes an exit and drives off into a sunset. It’s about as perfect as an ending as there could be under the circumstances.
“There was a question, how are we going to end this movie?,” remembers Morgan. “And so I just wrote that sequence and brought it into the studio. And I’m like, ‘I think this is how it ends.’ And everyone read it and we just all kind of looked at each other and we’re like, ‘We’re doing it. Now we’ll do it.’ So that was good.”
But here we are at The Fate of the Furious and the question persisted as how to address Paul Walker going forward. It might seem morbid to mention Walker’s character too often, but it might also seem callous to just ignore him completely.
“We had done a couple cuts of the film where we had a little less, and we had a couple cuts of the film where we had done a little more,” Moritz explans. “And I think we found the happy medium of where it should be. Where he’s acknowledged.”