Paul Walker's 'Furious 7' Role Completed with Old Franchise Footage
by Ethan Anderton
March 25, 2015
It's been a long road for Furious 7 to make it to theaters next week. While the film was meant to be fasttracked for a release last year to follow closely behind Fast & Furious 6, the film was struck with the tragic death of leading man Paul Walker, one of the stars of the original film that kicked off this ongoing action franchise. Production was halted, and a new approach needed to be hatched in order to finish the film while also giving Walker a proper send-off with what was already shot. We've heard reports of CGI and body doubles being used to help complete Walker's work on the film, and also his two brothers, but there's more.
First, here's Neal Moritz talking about finishing the film without Walker:
"Then it came to how could we actually finish 'Furious 7.' We had shot most of the movie with Paul, but we wondered how we were actually going to make this work. I have to say, he was looking down on us. Because of unused footage that we had from previous movies and the use of new technology, we were able to complete the film inspired by Paul’s spirit and give him and his best-known character a perfect cinematic send-off. This movie is a testament to his legacy."
SlashFilm actually asked James Wan specifically about how this was done, and he said:
"I’m not gonna say specifically what was what, because I think it’s very important that people go into this movie not fixated on trying to work out which is Paul, which isn’t Paul. I want them to just watch the movie and enjoy the film and be caught up in the emotion of it all. We worked so hard so that they don’t have to do that.
And so I think that’s very important and I don’t wanna kind of fuel that fire so to speak. Maybe years from now, I’ll talk about it or maybe at a later day on the track. But needless to say, yes, I wanted to use as much of real Paul as I could.
And if that meant stealing a look from the previous movies or whatever, that was the way to do it. I think it’s just from a sentimental point of view, I think it wanted to be that."
And clarifying a bit what Wan is talking about, an article from THR reveals that Peter Jackson's amazing special effects company Weta Digital was commissioned to take unused footage from the previous Fast & Furious movies and complete footage that they couldn't without Walker present. Apparently it's a trick that's been used before, but SlashFilm seems to think that there's one specific, memorable shot, possibly in whatever Walker's send-off in the film may be, that was completed this way. However, it sounds like it's not an obvious digital replacement. Fans will have to see for themselves next week.