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With the tragic death of Paul Walker in November 2013, family, friends and fans were faced with saying a heartbreaking and abrupt goodbye to the 40-year-old actor. Additionally, the fate of the Fast & Furious franchise became uncertain, especially since Walker's character Brian O'Conner, had a key role in the series since 2001. With Furious 7 in the middle of production at the time of Walker's passing, the producers asked Walker's brothers, Caleb and Cody, if they would step in and contribute to a scene that would pay tribute to Walker and his role in the franchise. The actor was digitally superimposed over his brothers' performances, in a touching scene where Brian O'Conner retires from the fast life and drives off into the sunset. The brothers did recently admit that they haven't revisited the scene since watching Furious 7 at the premiere in April 2015. Caleb Walker explained:
It's kind of creepy sometimes when you're like, 'Oh, that's me.' It doesn't feel right. I think one day, when our kids are little older and we are able to share that experience with them and be like, 'Hey look, this is your uncle Paul. He was the greatest guy in the world and here we are being able to portray him and finish up this movie for him.' That's when I think it will really hit that I think it was really worth it and special and all that. But in the meantime, it's still a little conflicted.
The Walker brothers both have become first-time fathers within the last year. Preserving Paul Walker' memory for for the loving fans of the franchise, themselves, and for their children, continues to motivate their willingness to keep their brother alive onscreen-- even if the product is an understandably strange concept for them to wrap their heads around. The brothers have also been promoting I Am Paul Walker, a one-hour documentary. They both contributed heavily to the documentary about the actor's life which premiered on the Paramount Network last weekend.
In the interview with Associated Press, Caleb and Cody Walker also showed their openness to pay tribute to their brother again in a future Fast & Furious installment. Fast & the Furious 9 and 10 are reportedly in the works, so the brothers could return and give fans more closure for the character since Brian O'Conner is still alive and well in the fictitious world of the franchise. The said they envision the character making a brief appearance to "save the day", only of course if it was well thought out and done tastefully.
Although the Fast & Furious franchise will never be the same again after Paul Walker's passing almost five years ago, the action series continues to stay strong. Before it continues with Fast & the Furious 9, Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson will star in spin-off Hobbs & Shaw starring their characters, coming to theaters August 2, 2019.