Furious 7 hits theaters in less than two weeks, and it’s safe to say the release of the highly anticipated latest film in the Fast and Furious franchise will be bittersweet.
The movie will mark the end of an era for a couple reasons. While it’s never been stated that Furious 7 will bring the end of the 15-year series, it’s definite that this “One Last Ride” will be the last time the entire original cast will appear together. The film also bids farewell to actor Paul Walker, who died in a car accident in November 2013, before Furious 7 wrapped production.
The death of Paul Walker hasn’t been easy for fans, but for his Furious costars, who regarded Walker as family, his demise has been even more brutal. As the world prepares to see Walker in his final role, we look back at the ways the Furious 7 cast has coped with the untimely passing of their colleague, friend and brother and how they are celebrating his life.
1. Visiting the crash site
After the crash, fans and actors Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson flocked to the scene where the vehicle Walker was a passenger in lost control. Both seemed visibly shaken as they tried to wrap their minds around what happened that day. “I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for coming down here and showing that angel up in heaven how much you appreciate him. It’s going to stay with me forever,” Diesel said to fans gathered at the site.
2. Reaching out to fans via social media
In the aftermath of Walker’s death, cast members have taken to social media many times over the past year to remember him, console fans and try to come to terms with the tragedy.
Diesel posted this picture of him and Walker.
Rodriguez posted a picture of herself and Diesel with the caption, “This one’s for you P.”
And Gibson posted a shot from the crash site.
3. Risky behavior
Though Michelle Rodriguez expressed her pain in a healthy manner on social media, she recently admitted that she went on “a binge” and engaged in some crazy behavior in an effort to cope with the loss of her dear friend. “I went pretty crazy,” she said, according to Us magazine. “A lot of the stuff I did last year I would never do had I been in my right mind.”
4. Keeping his name alive
Diesel and his girlfriend, Paloma Jiménez, welcomed their third child in March, and he recently told the Today Show that he named his daughter after Walker. “I named her Pauline,” he said, adding that he felt his best friend’s presence in the delivery room when his daughter was born.
5. Filling in for him on set
Walker’s real brothers, Caleb and Cody, helped fill gaps in production for Paul, who hadn’t filmed all of his scenes for Furious 7 before he died. The brothers were welcomed to the set with open arms and were happy to help out in their brother’s name, according to a statement made by Universal Pictures.
6. Running Walker’s charity
Cody Walker not only became Paul’s stand-in, but he also dedicated himself to keeping his brother’s legacy alive through the charity he ran, Reach Out WorldWide. “As Paul would say, ‘When you put good will out there, it’s amazing what can be accomplished.’ We can all make a difference in this world and I am honored to join the ROWW team in fulfilling my brother’s legacy and ensure that the good my brother did lives on,” said Cody.
7. Filming the movie itself
While completing Furious 7 without Walker was excruciating at times, Diesel said that having to do it also gave him, and the rest of the cast, a form of closure they may not have gotten otherwise. “It’s very, very weird,” he said to Access Hollywood in July 2014. “The good thing is, because we took all the time, the movie is a true testament to everyone coming together and wanting to honor both the saga and our brother, and there’s something very beautiful about that.”
Watch the cast pay tribute to Walker and talk about family in a touching featurette here.