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Even though it seems like Paul Walker’s death only put a halt to James Wan’s Fast & Furious 7, the reality is that the actor was actually already set up to star in a handful of other films over the next year or so as well. Now that Universal has made it official that they’ll be retiring Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner character, other studios have begun to figure out how they will go about replacing Walker on their own films, such as 20th Century Fox’s Hitman reboot Agent 47 and Relativity’s romantic drama The Best of Me. Thankfully, holograms will not be used.
According to TheWrap, Fox is looking at Homeland star Rupert Friend to take Walker’s place as the lead hitman in their upcoming re-adaptation of the bestselling video game. Meanwhile, Deadline is reporting James Marsden has been offered the lead in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best of Me opposite Michelle Monaghan. Both of these are equally interesting choices in their own right, though Walker’s presence gave each project that extra bit of excitement that studios will have to gain back with these new substitutions.
Back in 2007, Fox released the oddly low-budget version of Hitman with a somewhat miscast Timothy Olyphant in the lead role, earning back its money but not making many new fans in the process. Friend is an interesting choice, though he doesn’t have a quarter of the fanbase that Walker attained over the years. He’s shown his ability to be quietly badass as the CIA operative Quinn on Homeland, but he has yet to make a name for himself on the big screen. You can catch him in David Mackenzie’s drama Starred Up later this year as well as in Alex Holdridge’s Meet Me in Montenegro, but I doubt these will raise his star to the heights that Agent 47 will. Scan your barcode and peep the original’s trailer below.
While Walker was of course better known for his action roles, it would have been interesting to see him star in the kind of sap-cloaked romances that are made from Sparks' novels. The book follows two former high school lovers who return to their hometown after 20 years to attend the funeral of a friend. While it seems like they’ll get right back together, the problems that kept them apart when they were young rise back to the surface. I prefer Marsden in comedic roles, such as Jack Lime in Anchorman 2, but he’s certainly got the appeal that a rom-dram calls for. He’s got the comedy Walk of Shame coming up, as well as the heavy thriller The Loft.
There are no stated plans yet for when either of these films might go into production, but we’ll keep you guys posted. In the meantime, there’s always The Notebook, right?