After the tragic death of Paul Walker back in 2013, the cast and crew of Furious 7 had the difficult task of finishing the film without their leading man, while also giving one of the franchise's most beloved character a proper send-off. Brian ultimately received a sentimental end to his story with the help of CGI, doctored footage and the use of Walker's brothers, who stepped up as Paul's body doubles. The send-off was gracious and the real life emotions clearly made a powerful impact on the movie.
With such a fitting finale, there wasn't a dry eye in the theater. But with Brian still alive and well in the franchise, was that really the last time we'd see the character?
The topic of #PaulWalker's potential appearance in this year's eighth installment, #FateOfTheFurious, was a controversial subject that divided fans. Although many presumed that we'd never see Brian again, the decision to use a CGI version of Paul Walker was considered by the film's director, F. Gary Gray. Here's what he had to say on the matter when asked about the prospect by Screen Rant,
“We had hundred of conversations about the best way, the classiest way to handle and address Paul’s legacy in this franchise. You know, there’s multiple ways you can go. You could create a digital Paul and make him more of a character. You could leave him out and pretend that he’s not in this world anymore. These are all conversations we had and we felt like the choice we made respected his legacy the best. And my understanding is that his family was really happy with how we treated him.”
Ultimately, the franchise's latest installment only mentioned Brian, keeping him respectfully off-screen. Dom (Vin Diesel) naming the baby after his partner in crime was a beautiful nod to Walker's legacy, and an appropriate way to show that his character will always be an important part of the franchise.
Using CGI to bring back the beloved character for the latest installment could have been distasteful, especially after such a fitting send-off. However, this isn't just a decision that the Fast franchise has had to discuss. In fact, the topic of CGI characters seems to be a hot issue as of late.
Is It Ever Appropriate To CGI A Late Actor's Performance?
In Walker's situation, using CGI to finish the actor's performance was understandable. The actor had been a major part of the franchise, and had been a part of the film's production before his untimely death - so in some ways, this was a unique scenario. But there is now an ongoing discussion as to when a studio should or shouldn't use CGI for the sake of continuity. Last year, Star Wars brought back Peter Cushing for his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The method used to give another actor Cushing's appearance was controversial, but it could be argued that the film's timeframe meant that his appearance was crucial to the film's continuity.
Star Wars undoubtedly faced similar decisions regarding Carrie Fisher's role beyond The Last Jedi, given her untimely passing earlier this year. Fortunately for those who would be against the idea, Star Wars issued a statement upon hearing that fans were worried we'd see a CGI Leia in Episode IX.
"We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa."
"Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars."
In the end, the legacies of these actors and their characters are more important than the potential stories that could be told by digitally recreating their image. As fans, the best thing we can do is be vocal about this sentiment and hope that the creative minds responsible for blockbuster franchises wholeheartedly agree.
The Fate of the Furious is available now on Digital HD and will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand July 11.
What do you think about the use of CGI characters? Tell us in the comments below!
[Source: Screen Rant]