Paul Walker’s scenes in Fast & Furious 7 was done with VFX.
Paul Walker’s scenes in Fast & Furious 7 was done with VFX. (Photo Credit – Instagram)

The Fast & Furious franchise faced an unexpected and tragic challenge after actor Paul Walker, who played Brian O’Conner, died in a car accident in 2013. While the actor is still remembered by everyone, his death deeply affected not only the cast and his fans but also the franchise. The filming of the seventh installment was hit with this tragedy but his scenes were completed using CGI technology.

Although the creators of the series thought of canceling Furious 7, they later decided to go through with it in the wake of Walker’s passing and the movie became a massive box-office success, grossing over $1.5 billion in theaters globally.

Following his passing, the storyline of Brian O’Conner was rewritten to include a tribute to Walker. The film’s crew was tasked to produce around 350 additional shots of Walker, 90 of which were archived footage and outtakes from earlier Fast & Furious films. The other remaining 260 shots were completed by Walker’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, as their faces were replaced with CGI versions of Paul in post-production.

Ultimately, the filmmakers of Furious 7 relied heavily on older footage of Walker as a reference, since the Weta VFX supervisor, Joe Letteri explained, “as close as the brothers were in style and mannerisms, they just weren’t Paul when Paul played his character.” While it was really challenging for the franchise because many of these shots included dialogue, the sound editors had to piece together existing recordings of Walker’s voice. Letteri also explained the meticulous process of crafting Walker’s CGI face, pointing out how the VFX artists had to be careful to avoid the effect falling into the “Uncanny Valley.”

Furious 7 provided a poignant farewell to Walker’s character despite the challenges faced by the VFX artists in creating his final scenes. The emotional culmination of the film featured a heartfelt moment between Dom and Brian, symbolized by their last “race” together where they spend their time before parting ways. Though it was a touching tribute, his presence was acknowledged through a non-visual cameo. As the family gathers for a meal, Dom mentions the empty chair to which Mia responds optimistically that “he’s on the way.” This scene was punctuated by the arrival of a blue Nissan Skyline, a clear homage to the iconic car driven by Brian throughout the series.

In the remaining chapters of the Furious franchise, Walker’s character is portrayed as him living his best life off-screen looking after the kids.

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