It turns out even a tragic death can’t keep the Fast and the Furious family apart. Franchise director Justin Lin told CinePOP Brazil that he wants to bring back Paul Walker‘s character Brian O’Conner in the remaining two Fast and the Furious sequels.
“Obviously, Paul and his character Brian are the soul and heart of how we’re able to move forward,” Lin said. “Bringing him back is something I think about every day. As we approach the end of the franchise, it’s a conversation I’m having. And I think about this possibility every day. But I know the decision to keep the character alive in the franchise was made while I was gone. So I have to be respectful about it. I need to feel good and confident in what happens.”
While all of this seems completely in the realm of fantasy, it’s not. After his untimely death in 2013, Walker’s brothers Cody and Caleb were used to help recreate his likeness in unfinished scenes for Furious 7. The script was also reworked to give the character a proper sendoff, so his absence in future Fast and the Furious films would make sense. With the character still alive, however, the possibility to bring him back is always there. But even if Lin can bring back O’Conner through the use of stand-ins and CGI – should he?
The Ethics of Bringing Brian Back
Walker’s semi-digital recreation in Furious 7 isn’t the first (or last) time a studio has had to work around a star’s death. Similar techniques were used for Brandon Lee on The Crow and Carrie Fisher in The Rise of Skywalker. Late actor Peter Cushing was even entirely digitally recreated for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The technology is there, mostly, though the uncanny valley sometimes peeks out from behind those computer-rendered eyes. These examples aren’t without their issues, however, and many have questioned the ethics of bringing back dead performers digitally. In this instance, however, there is quite a bit of support from Walker’s family. Both Cody and Caleb have said that they are open to returning to the franchise as Brian.
Brian’s wife, Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) returned to the series in F9, so there are narrative possibilities for bringing Brian back into the fold. While it would be expensive and probably pretty difficult to give Brian a major role in the final two films, there’s still a very real possibility he could get a cameo.
Just picture it: the #family all gathers together for a backyard barbeque to celebrate defeating Cipher. Dom (Vin Diesel) reaches for a cold one and who hands to to him but his partner from the first seven movies in the franchise, Brian. It would be a heartwarming end to a series which focused heavily on the relationship between the two men. If the Walker family is on board, and Lin really wants to do it, bringing Brian back for one final goodbye wouldn’t be so terrible. Would it?
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