Director James Wan is more synonymous with the horror genre than for the action film that became his biggest box office draw to date, “Furious 7.” The devilish mind behind “Saw” and creepy throwback “The Conjuring” took over the popular motor movie series from director James Lin. but during the production of the first franchise movie under Wan’s control, one of his leading men, Paul Walker, was killed in a tragic accident.
In a recent interview with Collider, Wan discussed the aftermath of his star’s death and how he rallied his crew to finish the film. “We took time off to reassess what we have and to kind of go through it and, you know, see what we needed moving forward,” he said. “And that time off was what we really, really truly needed to know how to push forward with the ending.”
The original ending was thrown out in light of Walker’s mid-production death. As the director revealed, the initial conclusion was supposed to set up the “bigger world where the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise could go into.”
“But when the tragedy happened, all of that became irrelevant,” Wan explained.
The director was able to rally his team to complete the film in Walker’s honor. Using Walker's younger brothers and CGI, the filmmakers finished the movie and opted to give his character, Brian O'Conner, a proper sendoff. As Wan said in an interview with /Film, he had no intentions of killing off O’Conner in the movie. “We all felt that we wanted Paul to be sent off to be retired in the most graceful way that we could do it.”
[Warning: “Furious 7” Spoilers Ahead]
The ending filmmakers decided on was indeed a tribute-style montage dedicated to Walker. Wan pulled scenes from the beginning of the popular series in 2001 through its 2009 reboot and current iteration. The director picked touching personal moments with O’Conner and the the family at various points throughout the series over racing scenes or stunts. The cast had become like a family through the years, and Wan’s memorable montage captured that sentiment.
With “Furious 7” already in theaters, some of the cast have teased some spoilers about what’s in store for the series. Vin Diesel pointed to a New York City visit for the franchise’s family, and new cast member Kurt Russell is set to return for some more action in the eighth installation.