In the relative early days of the Fast franchise, Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto was headlining the series with the late Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner. When Walker died in 2013, the franchise opted to retire the character with Furious 7 two years later. Later installments have made it clear he’s quite alive—F9 even ends with his car coming to the Torettos’ driveway—and Dom’s son (as revealed in F8 of the Furious) is even named after the character.
Brian’s absence has resulted in Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) becoming a more prominent part of the cast with F9: The Fast Saga, but the question of what the franchise would do with him looms over the next two films. Fast X’s trailer showed that he’ll appear via flashbacks using old footage from Fast Five, but it may go further than that. Speaking to Total Film earlier in the week, Diesel indicated that Brian may show up in the present day somehow before the series wraps things up with Fast 11. Calling the original Furious 7 ending a “righteous and daring choice” to keep Brian alive, he said that he “couldn’t imagine this saga ending without truly saying goodbye to Brian O’Conner.”
When Walker died mid-production on Furious 7, several of his scenes were already shot. To complete his remaining moments, Universal used CG to recreate the actor’s features, and had his brothers Cody and Caleb used to record a baseline performance. It may be that Universal will recast the character with a new actor, or just use the CG method again to bring the character back for a short appearance. Studios have used the latter option plenty of times in recent years, and recent months have made it clear that AI and CG technology can be used to recreate (or wholly make) performances to varying degrees of success.
We’ll find out for sure when Fast X comes to theaters on May 19, and Fast 11 at a later date.
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