The producers of the seventh Fast and Furious movie have decided to "retire" Paul Walker's character, Brian O'Conner, rather than kill him off. Sources close to the film told The Hollywood Reporter that the studio has found a way to use the footage it shot of Walker, before the actor's death in a car accident last year, in a way that will satisfy the series' fans.
In the weeks following Walker's death, a team consisting of director James Wan, writer Chris Morgan and the studio's lead exec on the series, Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, watched the scenes it had shot that featured Walker. They then modified the existing script so the O'Conner character, which has been a part of all but one the series' installments, could be part of the story but also bow out gracefully so the franchise could continue. The changes will require Wan to film extra scenes that are yet to be written.
Last month, the studio extended the movie's release date to April 2015, as opposed to the July 2014 release date it had previously announced. The later release date will give Wan more time to film the new scenes.
In related news, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office issued a statement today that said Walker's Porsche Carrera GT had to have been traveling at over 100 miles per hour when its driver lost control of the vehicle. An updated statement from the L.A. Sheriff's Department said that it still does not know why the car's driver, Roger Rodas, lost control.
According to another Hollywood Reporter article, Walker's car partially spun, hit a curb a tree and a light post, which turned the car 180 degrees and caused the car's passenger side to hit another tree and combust into flames. The sheriffs' statement added, "It appeared that the vehicle was almost split in half." The coroner's report noted that it could find no traces of drugs or alcohol in either Rodas's or Walker's systems. The driver's official cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries while Walker's was traumatic and thermal injuries.
Despite these findings, the report offered a caveat: "The decedent cannot be positively identified visually. The decedent is probably Paul William Walker IV."