Fast and Furious 7 release troubles lie ahead

MATT BUNGARD
Last updated 16:25 02/12/2013
Fairfax

Hollywood mourns after 'Fast and the Furious' actor dies in a car accident on his way back from a charity event on Saturday afternoon.

Paul Walker's career

Paul Walker
Firefighters extinguish the fire in the car where actor Paul Walker and his friend Roger Rodas were killed.

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In the wake of actor Paul Walker's tragic death, the cast and crew of The Fast and the Furious 7 are facing a production delay - but the movie will not be cancelled entirely, despite an insider claiming that everyone involved with the film is "too distraught to work, anyway".

Walker, 40, died in a car crash in Southern California on Saturday, with the limited-edition Porsche being engulfed in flames. He was being driven by fellow car fanatic Roger Rodas, CEO of Walker's company Always Evolving, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Walker was set to reprise his role as Brian O'Conner in the series' seventh installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise. The cast and crew were on a break from production over the Thanksgiving weekend, and were set to start shooting again today.

It is understood that a substantial amount of the film had already been shot, but Walker and other cast members still had additional scenes to complete.

Tributes poured out for the star, with the film's director James Wan tweeting: "I am so beyond heartbroken right now. I can't process anything".

Sources say that many of the remaining cast members, such as Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, have no intention of returning to set any time soon, stating: "No one wants to even think about the movie. Period."

Paul Walker with co-star Vin Diesel in <i>The Fast and the Furious 6</i>.

Paul Walker with co-star Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious 6. Photo: Giles Keyte

There is precedent for this tragic situation, with Heath Ledger's death not affecting the post-production and marketing for The Dark Knight, as well as seeing Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law continue on Ledger's role in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Although it's a slightly different situation, as Walker is certainly more ingrained with The Fast and the Furious franchise than Ledger was with either of those projects and so it creates a genuine dilemma for the studio going forward. It will now be a question of considering how effectively the film can be marketed with the face of the franchise having passed away, as well as the method that the tragedy occurred.

Walker featured in five of the six installments of the popular series, and dedicated a substantial amount of his spare time to charity; when killed, he was leaving an event for his charity Reach Out Worldwide, for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

The Fast and the Furious 7 was scheduled for a release in July of 2014, and it will now being a struggle to complete the movie on time, if at all.

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A life cut short

Walker was set to star in another two Fast and Furious films.

''All of us at Universal are heartbroken,'' the studio said in a statement.

''Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans.''

His Fast and Furious co-star Diesel posted a photograph of him and Walker on Instagram with the message: ''Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless.''

The son of a fashion model and a sewer contractor, Walker grew up in a working-class Mormon household in California.

The oldest of five siblings, Walker's mother began taking him to auditions as a toddler.

He was a child model from the age of two.

Walker has said the early induction to show business wasn't to start him on a career path, but was a way to help provide for the family.

After a string of TV roles as a child in the 1980s, including small roles on Who's the Boss and Charles in Charge, Walker made his feature film debut in the 1998 comedy Meet the Deedles.

Supporting roles in the films Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and Flags of Our Fathers followed.

His performance in the 2000 thriller The Skulls caught the eye of producer Neal Moritz, who cast him in The Fast and the Furious as undercover police officer Brian O'Conner.

Adapted from a Vibe magazine article about underground street races, the film became an unexpected hit.

In the sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Walker moved to centre stage, with Diesel temporarily dropping out.

Walker, a self-described ''gearhead'', kept his character's sports car from the film.

Walker starred in other films, including the crime thriller Running Scared, the Antarctic adventure Eight Below and the heist film Takers.

Though his stardom didn't make as much of an impact outside the Fast and Furious series, Walker continually drew praise from his co-stars and directors as a kind-hearted and eager collaborator.

''Your humble spirit was felt from the start,'' Ludacris, Walker's Fast and Furious co-star, said on Twitter. ''You always left a mark, we were like brothers.''

Released in May, Fast and Furious 6 was the most lucrative of the movie series, grossing more than US$788 million (NZ$965 million) worldwide.

- The Age with agencies

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