Before the world premiere of “Furious 7” at the South by Southwest Film Festival on early Monday morning, producer Neal H. Moritz and co-star Tyrese Gibson paid touching tribute to Paul Walker.
“The reason that we kept this thing going became on behalf of our brother Paul Walker,” said Gibson at the surprise debut of the film, which was announced on Sunday afternoon.
Walker died on Nov. 30, 2013, and production on the seventh “Fast and Furious” film was delayed four months to allow cast and crew to mourn their colleague and friend. After filming resumed, Walker’s performance was completed with the help of his brothers, who acted as stand-ins, and some computer effects.
“We obviously lost a dear friend, brother, comrade when we were making this movie,” said Moritz, who has produced all seven films in the series. “He was really the best guy I ever met in my world — in my life. When we decided we were going to continue this movie, we were determined to honor his legacy and our love for him forever.”
Moritz made a plea to the Austin, Texas crowd to avoid giving out spoilers about the fate of Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner. But it gives nothing away to say the film acts as a fitting send off to Walker, and has more than a few emotional moments. It concludes with a simple dedication to the late star that reads, “For Paul.”
“This movie is the highlight of my career. I’m so proud of what we’ve done,” Moritz said. “And I know Paul Walker would be smiling down on all of us.