Will Paul Walker’s Death Put the Brakes on ‘Fast & Furious’ Stunts?

'Fast Five' Paul Walker, Vin Diesel

Thesp's death in an auto accident leaves a shadow on the franchise that highlights street racing

When director Rob Cohen first approached Paul Walker for the original “The Fast and Furious” movie in 2000, the actor had only three questions.

“Do I get a fast car? Do I get a gun? Do I get a girl?” Cohen recalls Walker asking.

The answers to all three — a resounding yes — convinced Walker to play undercover cop Brian O’Conner in what would become one of Universal Pictures’ most successful film franchises.

Fans and showbizzers are still reeling over the shocking news that Walker died Nov. 30 at age 40 as the passenger of a speeding Porsche that rammed into a pole in Santa Clarita, Calif.

His death leaves Universal with a daunting moral dilemma over how to move forward with the current production and future installments of the franchise. A race car enthusiastic in real life, Walker called himself a “speed demon” in a recent interview, though police have yet to determine an official cause of the accident.

PHOTOS: Actors Who Died During Filming

Walker had starred in five of the six “Fast and the Furious” films, which have grossed more than $2.3 billion worldwide. He was in the middle of shooting the latest sequel, “Fast & Furious 7,” at the time of his death.

Universal initiated a temporary break in the film’s Atlanta shooting schedule over the weekend as the studio reassesses its next move. But Cohen isn’t even sure if the series should continue without Walker.

“That’s a tricky question,” he says. “I think the franchise has had a longer life than any of us thought was going to have. There’s something that we did in the first film that planted these characters deep in people’s minds and hearts and it’s only grown over the years.”

Now the series will have an unintended undertone to its death-defying car stunts and exploding vehicles that are served up as mass entertainment.

On social media, fans were mostly adamant that they wanted the seventh movie to continue filming.

Some fans speculated about whether it would be tasteful for the filmmakers to kill off Walker’s character or how else to explain his absence.

A rep from Universal wouldn’t say how much of the latest chapter had been shot with Walker or how the studio plans to proceed both in terms of dealing with the inevitable demise of Walker’s character and the franchise as a whole.

Shots of Walker behind the wheel for the promotion of the Dec. 10 release of “Fast & Furious 6” on DVD have already been yanked.

“The fine line that they’ll have to walk is wanting to be respectful to his death, but also capture the essence of the franchise that I’m sure he was so proud of,” says one former studio marketing head. “You have to be careful of what you show him doing.”

As the recent installments of “Fast and the Furious” have continued to upstage the previous films with bigger stunts and more exaggerated car explosions, Cohen notes that the lines between the onscreen action and reality have increasingly diverged.

“These (later films) have been very over the top, operatic and therefore somewhat unreal,” he says. “There’s a quality of highly vaulted Hollywood action that is not encouraging people to go out and get themselves killed.”

That said, the real-life circumstances surrounding Walker’s death puts Universal in the precarious position of continuing to promote a movie series that centers on the dangerous sport of street racing.

“Anyone watching the previous films with Paul Walker or any future films will be reminded of the tragedy of his accident and death,” says Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School. “The way in which the film’s events mirror what actually happened will probably cast a permanent shadow over the franchise,” he adds.

(Pictured: Paul Walker and Vin Diesel have toplined the “Fast and Furious” films.)

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  1. karen johnson says:

    walker would want the movie to continue…. but i would let 7 be the last.

  2. Ted Gignilliat says:

    If Paul Walker could answer the concern of the studio in the stunts and continued action that made Fast what it is I do from my heart think he would respond with keep Fast moving forward as in the past. It’s what made it what it was. I’ve stated I’m a speed Demond. That wouldn’t ever change. It’s me the real Paul Warker. I’m 66 years old. Paul was what people want.

  3. Randy Chisholm says:

    I have enjoyed watching Paul Walker ever since the first fast and furious and It just won’t ever ever be the same without him and it would be hard to watch fast and furious 7 knowing that Paul is going to die off in the movie as he did already in real life. so therefore I really encourage the producers to consider not even finishing the movie.. I truly truly believe in life everything happens for a reason and I believe God needed him and having to be one of his angels because he’s needed their most. I have been devastated ever since the accident keep glued to the internet. The most respect for Paul and my heart goes out to his daughter and his family..

    • LOL says:

      I agree with Randy. Very wise sentiments, sir.

      • Zach says:

        Paul Walker specifically said to the camera at a fan that they were talking to a fan about the number of fast and furious movies to do and Paul Walker said 66 whether he was joking or not I think we should do 66 and have the actors start to have girlfriends and kids in the movie and lead up to them taking over there parents roles (in the movie) that is. As for fast and furious 7 they should cut out the later scenes in the movie of Paul Walker, cause no one wants to see something like a new character, for example what happening in the movie (The Dark Knight) with the Joker. So they should obviously use the funeral Scene of Han where Brian is talking to Roman about the amount of funerals to have. So then in one of Paul Walker’s driving scene’s some how gets in a brutal crash and dies cause, then u can video creative angles of the crash happening with someone else in the car at the time of the crash, like what happened to Han in Tokyo Drift, except that was actually set up. So then like Paul Walker says “just one more” about funerals, so then the coincidental of him saying that ends up being him, being the last funeral and the main part of the story shifts to Dominic Toretto and Roman pierce. They all say that they’re doing the job for Brian and work the movie that way!!!! That’s my point of view on how it should be, but obviously James Wan is the expert on this so I’ll let him do what he does best. Just thought he would like to take it into consideration

    • VERY COMFORTING WORDS RANDY…..

  4. Jen Lundberg says:

    It is a real tragedy for Paul’s Family and Friends and Everyone in the FF Franchise, however I do believe you should carry the story on as Paul would of wanted that, he will have to be written out tastfuly perhaps he could die in a street race scene without showing anything but a explosion and then moving forward with Vin and Tyrese teaming up, perhaps even Pauls son in the movie could be written in to take over where his father left off ?

  5. ZBOI ZEBRA KNGIHT says:

    7 is a lucky number…..reality mirrors the movies…the Final FF should be shot …as truth in the danger of street car racing….Have Paul …by way of a dream by Vin Diesel….die in a accident….and the movies steers in the direction of safety before vanity….and the moral is …YOU SHOULD ONLY RACE A CAR IN THE STREETS TO SAVE A LIFE….PROTECT A LIFE….PRODUCE A LIFE…..AND CATCH THE BAD GUYS……ZBOI

  6. teri says:

    I think the same as u they both knew how to drive a car an handle them as well something went wrong with that car

  7. teri says:

    Just mind blowing how y’all will finish the film with out him rest in peace paul walker u will be missed an my love goes out to his daughter I lost my mother at 15i have no parents they all pasted so I know how u feel god bless u all an keep ur heads up

  8. Arlene Weatherford says:

    Paul Walkers entire family and friends are in my prayers I have seen all his movies and he will be greatly missed he was a very talented actor and I am experiencing the loss as well as the rest of the world!!!

  9. Brian O says:

    They need to put the crash in the movie . He played a street racer and he was one in real life . He would want them to carry on with the film

  10. Roman says:

    There’s no Fast and the Furious without Paul Walker. Paul and Vin Diesel are the 2 most influential characters in the series and they are soley responsible for planting the seed in our minds as well as our hearts. I don’t know if anyone has put2 and 2 together yet, but there are two stories of Irony within this tragic event. Paul’s untimely passing was incurred by what he is most known for within the film industry. But the second piece that lies within the Series is within the Toretto Family as well. Dom lost the Leticia ‘Letty’ Ortiz that he Knew and Loved in a car accident that burst into flames. Now Mia has lost Brian, whereas Paul passed in a car accident that burst into flames. R.I.P. Paul William Walker IV. You will be forever loved and forever missed. My family and I send our prayers to Paul’s Daughter Meadow and his Family as well as his On Screen Family. Vin, Jordanna, Michelle, Matt, Tyrese, Chris, Don Omar,

  11. nefertti says:

    i think the film should be continued and script should be written out the true story of how he died..make the film a true story…that would be awesome and heartbreaking..R.I.P. u are the most handsome actor. heaven has truely gained a new angel..:)

  12. Leo Daniels says:

    I truly think Paul would’ve wanted this film to be completed. His character could disappear as a result of an underground kidnapping or something or tastefully give a tribute to him. He loved cars, fast cars and he also loved his fans and wouldn’t want to disappoint. Make this the last of the FF series and let him go out on top the way he deserves. Win win for everyone.

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