A $200 million action blockbuster isn’t typically the kind of movie you’d expect to have audiences bawling their eyes out in the theater, but that’s exactly what happened when the seventh installment of the Fast & Furious franchise drew to a close. Star Paul Walker tragically died in the midst of production, but using CGI and his brothers as doubles, director James Wan and his team were able to finish the film, and it’s a hugely emotional experience when Walker’s Brian O’Conner rides off into the sunset.
It was the best way to handle such tragic circumstances, and a fitting farewell to an actor who had been a key part of the series since the beginning. Brian is still very much alive in the Fast & Furious timeline, though, with several references to him being made in The Fate of the Furious, which in itself presents some difficulties when it comes to crafting new stories.
After sitting out parts seven and eight, The Fast Saga veteran Justin Lin is back behind the camera for the upcoming ninth entry. And in a new interview, he confirmed once more that Brian is still alive by the time of F9 and admitted that when the scripts are coming together, Walker’s shadow is always there in the background, and it’s about striking a balance between acknowledging both the character and the man himself.
“Yeah, that is a constant issue and something I always want to be very respectful of. The fact that Brian O’Conner is still alive in this universe needs to be acknowledged. We’re treating F9 as the first film of the last chapter, and at some point it is something I think about and how we can really show his presence but in a respectful way. So it’s always ongoing. I feel like in 9 we’ve done it in a way that I feel good about, but, as we go into trying to wrap up the saga, it’s something that I will continue to always be thinking through.”
F9 is set to launch the final self-contained trilogy within the Fast & Furious timeline, and Lin will be back to helm the tenth and eleventh movies, which will tie up the main storyline. There are no doubt going to be plenty of spinoffs after that, but it’s fitting that Vin Diesel will live up the promise he made to Walker by ensuring the franchise makes it to double digits.