When Paul Walker tragically died in a car accident while Furious 7 was still in production, many grieving fans wondered what would become of the seventh installment of the franchise. While the film was ultimately completed and praised for retiring the character in a fitting way that paid tribute to Walker, there was a period of time where the film’s creative team considered shutting down production. In an interview with Collider, The Fate of the Furious writer Chris Morgan discussed the original ending to Furious 7 and explained why they decided against ending production of the film.
Morgan revealed that the original arc for Paul Walker’s character was similar to one featured in the final version of the film.
“Well, the original ending, if I remember correctly, was our guys end up solving the problem and then kind of becoming—again, going more outlaw, it was sort of a happier ending that kind of ends with the insinuation that they were gonna go off onto this heist or this job. But the core issue for Brian, Paul’s character, was this kind of ‘Who am I?’ sort of question. He’s a guy who used to be a cop and in the thick of the action and a racer, and all this stuff, and now he has an amazing wife, a kid and another one on the way. Then he starts to look at his life and it’s not a midlife crisis but to say—we said it in the movie, ‘I miss the bullets, I miss the action’ and the point of the adventure was to show by the end of it that the thing that’s truly important to him is his family and being there. It wouldn’t mean that he has to stop those adventures or those things, but the context is just a little bit different, he has a different understanding of who he is at his core and what’s most important in life.”
Morgan explained how he was inspired to write the ending that paid tribute to Paul Walker and retired his character.
“Then the tragedy with Paul happened halfway through our shooting. We had him in a lot of the action stuff and not a lot of the dramatic sequences, and so those were gonna be impossible to get. Then we had the question of like—there was a real moment where not only were we all just emotionally devastated, but there was a real question of is it even possible to finish. There was a beat where we were actually all just thinking about just shutting it down and not going on with it, but we took a little time and everyone had a chance to grieve. Then we all started thinking about it and I started specifically thinking about, ‘How do we build that story? What do we have with Paul?’ and really for me it was about, ‘Can we give the audience a cathartic experience to say goodbye? Can we do something that is worthy of Paul that he would appreciate?’ So it really kind of came down to that last sequence, so I just ended up writing it out and I took it into the studio and I was like, ‘This is what I think the end of the movie is’ and they loved it and the studio loved it. That was the moment when we all agreed, ‘We need to do this.’”
While the decision to shut down production on the film would have been entirely understandable, the creative team on the film crafted a moving and respectful tribute to Paul Walker that many fans feel they should proud of, myself included.
The Fate of the Furious will be released in theater on April 14, 2017.