Vin Diesel talks about continuing the Fast & Furious franchise without Paul Walker

Paul Walker’s death was a devastating loss for his Fast & Furious co-stars back in 2013. The franchise leans heavily on the concept of family, and the cast was as tight-knit off screen as they were on it. There was some question about whether an eighth movie would happen, and star/producer Vin Diesel explained to Total Film Magazine how something Walker said ended up serving as the inspiration for the franchise moving forward.

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“It wasn’t just a question of whether this franchise could work without Paul,” Diesel said. “It was whether I could even survive doing it without Paul.” But after a lot of consideration, there was one thing that got Diesel back to the starting line. “I’d seen this video of Paul guaranteeing eight, while we were making seven. That hit me.”

I couldn’t find the actual video, but the interview Diesel refers to was with Collider in November of 2013, just days before Walker’s death in a tragic car accident. I tracked down a transcription of the video, and at the time, Walker explained to the site, "the studio supposedly wants 8, 9 and 10. I’ll be 50. Even if 7 were to [tank], there’s at least an 8. That’s a guarantee."

It sounds like Walker’s shadow loomed large during the production of The Fate of the Furious, and affected Diesel in a profound way. “You’re talking about a bond and a brotherhood,” Diesel said to Total Film. “The pain wasn’t about whether something would work. Fuck the film. It was about the loss of someone very important in my life. Was there ever any moment I wasn’t thinking about him? That’s the question. Every day I’d be saying, ‘This movie has to be amazing because of Paul.’”

As we’ve seen in the newest trailer for The Fate of the Furious, Diesel’s Dominic Toretto turns his back on his family and aligns himself with a cyber terrorist played by Charlize Theron. It’s pretty clear things are taking a dark turn in this movie - especially for Dom’s wife, Letty, played by Michelle Rodriguez. The actress told Total Film that her character takes an emotional beating in the movie. “They always make her suffer. Sometimes I’m like, ‘I just wanted to blow up cars and have fun!’” Rodriguez laughs. “But you can’t go happy after losing Paul, so I completely understand.”

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Directed by F. Gary Gray and starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, and many more, The Fate of the Furious (or Fast & Furious 8) races into theaters on April 24, 2017 in the US and April 14, 2017 in the UK.

Images: Universal/Total Film

Ben Pearson
Ben is an entertainment journalist who has written about movies online for nearly a decade. He loves the Fast & Furious franchise, prefers Indiana Jones to Star Wars, and will defend the ending of Lost until his dying day. He shook Bill Murray's hand once (so he's got that going for him, which is nice). Ben lives in Los Angeles with his wife.