Making of The Fast & The Furious Friendship of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel: Always Brothers!
I have family; I don’t have pals. So says Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto in Furious 7, one of many nods to the $6 billion Fast and Furious franchise’s central theme—that “motor oil is thicker than blood”—which, aside from the fast cars and the increasingly outrageous things you can do with them, is fundamentally about friendship, the kind that epitomizes the idea of “ride or die” in more ways than one. But over the course of a decade, the core group also began to think of themselves as a family, unlike some performers who simply show up for work and leave at the end of the day. Diesel also felt as though he had lost a sibling when Paul Walker passed away on November 30, 2013, at the age of 40, in a car accident.
In the end, the 54-year-old actor co-starred with Walker in five Fast and Furious movies, including Furious 7, which was still in production when Walker passed away. After the sleeper hit The Fast and the Furious in 2000, the actor skipped the first sequel. When Diesel learned the news, he immediately boarded a flight for California out of concern for his goddaughter, Meadow Walker, who was Paul’s sole child. A few days later, Diesel used his affectionate moniker for Walker, the Spanish counterpart of Paul, on Facebook, saying, “Pablo, I wish you could see the world right now… and the deep impact, your complete life has had on it, on Us… on me.” Walker is Diesel’s on-screen name for Paul. I will always cherish Brian for the brother he was, both on and off the screen. He also recalled the wrenching moment he met Walker’s mother, Cheryl, and other family members: “I thought they needed my strength, but realized when I got there and broke down before his family, that it was I who needed theirs.” “His mother gave me a hug and apologized profusely… I apologized? You you the mother of the deceased son? Yes, but you lost your other half, she replied.
After the accident, Diesel returned to social media a week later and frequently posted his thoughts and memories. “There were always times of innocent laughter… By 2013, we had achieved so much. The actor shared one of many tributes to his pal over the years on Facebook on January 2, 2014: “P.s. The complexity of Brotherhood, and the aching hole… of it’s absence. Walker was remembered as one of the most sincere good guys you could wish to meet, and their nearly 15-year bromance was the real deal, one anchored in the franchise’s ragtag beginnings, even as the anguish gushed forth as one might anticipate after such a tragic loss. Do you recall that time we attended an illegal street car rally together in 1999 while you and I were conducting research? Prior to the release of Fast & Furious 6 in May 2013, Diesel posed the question to his co-star during a joint Q&A for Movie Fone. And approximately 30 minutes later, you and I are escaping helicopters while pondering whether this was too much research. Walker naturally remembered. It was fantastic, he declared.
“When we first did this, we thought we had an opportunity to make a Rebel Without a Cause,” Diesel recalls. We believed that we were filming a classic vehicle movie, and that would be it. But there they were, he continued, wondering if the aim was to then make “seven, eight, nine? alternatively, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Naturally, as they shook hands and said goodbye, they referred to one another as brothers. Walker passed away barely six months later, leaving Furious 7’s cast and crew to somehow reassemble.
Diesel thanked Universal on The Jonathan Ross Show in October 2015 for allowing the production to change the ending to give Walker a proper send-off, calling the studio “wonderful and exceptional”: Brian O’Conner, a former police officer who later joined the FBI, is seen leaving with Mia and their son Jack, who is Jordana Brewster’s. Brian is Dom’s partner in crime (and brother-in-law). For the remaining scenes starring Brian, Walker’s equally attractive brothers Cody and Caleb served as body doubles; Diesel found solace in their presence on set.
The family’s presence, along with their desire to preserve the legacy of someone they care deeply about, empowered Diesel and his team more than anything, he told Extra in 2015. “They were just so generous and unrelenting in wanting to help and doing anything to help us finish this legacy and complete this task that we had, and it was just seeing them there, wanting to protect the legacy of someone they care greatly about was an empowering feeling,” Diesel said. For us, that was the most significant thing ever. Diesel uploaded a photo of Dom and Brian along with the announcement of the movie’s release date, adding, “The last scene we filmed together… We all shared a distinct sense of accomplishment and pride… As we finished the movie, the magic was caught. In terms of how far we’ve come, There will be a release of Fast and Furious 7… 10 April 2015! He would want you to know first, p.s. Diesel had given the name Pauline to his third child, who was born that March, by the time it was released (later moved up to April 3).
The relationships in that franchise are so strong and the brotherhood is so real, that it transcends the experience of making the movie, Diesel said to Jonathan Ross later that year. “Sometimes I’ll post a picture on Facebook or talk about Pablo and people will say, ‘You know, just move on,'” he added. And it takes you 15 years to transform from being a nobody to someone with a brother, and then one day he passes away. Press appearances for Furious 7 did offer some release for Diesel, who had many pleasant memories to share, including their time spent together in the sun on the set of 2009’s Fast & Furious, the fourth film in the franchise but their first to be made since the original.
According to him, “We were hanging out and talking about how we finished shooting in Mexico.” We’re drinking beer when I get clotheslined into the pool. I have to admit that this brought back memories of my childhood and of my relationship with my siblings. We were laughing so hard in the pool.
Walker, a self-described “gear head” who enjoyed automobiles but was also interested in trying out more juicy acting roles, explained why he chose to return to the Fast & Furious franchise by telling Australia’s Girl.com.au in 2009 that he loved the heart of the first movie (2 Fast 2 Furious was super fun, he said, but it didn’t have that familial soul) and that he basically saw it as a good opportunity to go and hang out with his friends. He laughed about himself and Diesel, saying, “Our chemistry is that we don’t have any chemistry….
“The amusing thing is that. He is East Coast whereas I am West Coast. You realize? We value one another as people. You know, that’s pretty much all it takes. We go about and have fun. But our approaches to the entire game are so very different from one another. Diesel was very at ease leading the life of a movie star, while Walker was motivated by a variety of other interests, he knew. When asked if he would want to be in the inevitable follow-up movie, Walker responded that he would genuinely want it to be the best one yet, not just a vague “bigger and better” situation.