The cast of The Fast and Furious were left devastated by the tragic and sudden death of Paul Walker in a car accident in November 2013.
Opening up about the loss of the beloved actor ahead of the release of the next Furious movie Jordana Brewster, who played Paul’s onscreen love interest Mia Toretto, admitted the bond she formed with Paul had been the “best” part of working on the film franchise.
Jordana told ABC News: “I love Vin [Diesel], I love Michelle [Rodriguez], but my friendship with Paul was definitely the highlight.“He was the best guy, just the best. The bond I had with him was definitely the best part of working on the Fast films.”
The 36-year-old actress, who at the end of Furious 7, saw her character Mia and Paul’s Brian settle down with their son, won’t feature in the new film, something she felt was right.
“The reason I’m not [in Fate] is that Mia’s with Brian, so I can’t think of a better place for her to be,” she explained. “In the seventh one, Mia was pregnant with a girl. So, I imagine they’re on some island, on some idyllic island, just living the life.”
Walker was killed age 40 on November 30th, 2013 alongside pal Roger Rodas, 38 in Valencia, California. The pair had been at an event for Walker’s charity Reach Out Worldwide before leaving in Rodas’ Porsche Carrera at around 3:00pm. Soon after the vehicle crashed into a concrete lamp post and two trees, catching fire.
An outpouring of shock and grief followed the tragic news, with many members of the cast visiting the crash site, which had turned into a makeshift shrine, in the days after the accident.
At the time Brewster released an emotional statement, paying tribute to her friend: “Paul was an enormous presence in my life for the past fourteen years. While many would be satisfied with material success it made Paul more convinced of the need to help others. He never spoke of his immense generosity or philanthropic endeavours unless I prodded, however. This is what made Paul, Paul.”
“He lived with integrity, humanity and humility and seemed most happy when talking about his daughter, Meadow,” she added. “I don’t know anyone who lived each moment more fully and loved life more than Paul; making his loss all the more heartbreaking.”
Paul first took on the role of Brian O’Conner in 2001’s The Fast And The Furious opposite Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Brewster.
A smash at the Box Office meant a sequel wasn’t far behind with Fast And Furious 2 following in 2003.
At the time of his death, the cast had been working on the seventh instalment of the action franchise. After the fatal crash, production was immediately shut down while the studio consulted with the devastated cast, crew and Walker’s grieving family over how to proceed.
The movie began shooting again in the Spring of 2014, with Walker’s twin brothers Caleb and Cody, standing in for the actor for his remaining scenes.
Reflecting on the experience, Brewster said in late 2014 that reuniting with the cast had been “special”.
Promising a farewell to her friend, she said it had been the perfect way to “celebrate” his life.
“I think the beautiful thing is that they get to see Paul again…and in a way celebrate him,” she told E!News at the time.
“I’ve heard he’s really really good in it, so I look forward to seeing him too. Obviously, it will be bittersweet, but I think it’s a way for fans to revisit him.”
The Fate of Eight will be the first of the movie franchise not to feature Walker, though his co-star Vin Diesel last week insisted he was still very much a part of the movie.
Speaking at a surprise screening at ComicCon in Las Vegas, the emotional actor told the audience: “Part of Paul’s legacy lives through every frame that we shoot. You are reminded of this angel that was so integral to this concept of brotherhood for our millennium.
“There’s something beautiful about that. There’s something celebratory about that… I always feel like he’s looking down on us, so we didn’t want to let him down.”