The news of Fast & Furious star Paul Walker’s sudden death in a car crash early on Sunday left millions of fans and his friends stunned beyond belief.
While social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with mourning messages, questions over the next Fast & Furious sequel were also doing the rounds.
Fast & Furious 7, which was scheduled for release in July next year, was the latest in the franchise the 40-year-old actor was working on.
He had recently posted a photo of the star cast of the film on his Twitter account with the tweet: "The boys are back. Will you be ready?"
Walker, appeared in all but one of the six movies in the popular franchise, and was a leading protagonist along with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez.
While the sequel is still under production, the death of Walker means the billion-dollar enterprise has tough days ahead.
There have been instances of Hollywood actors dying while their movies were still under production in the past. Heath Ledger died in 2008 with many scenes of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus still left to shoot. Oliver Reed passed away while shooting for Gladiator. But the studio inserted a digital recreation of Reed’s face for a few key shots, according to entertainment site BuzzFeed.
However, Fast & Furious director James Wan can’t really rely on such an option. For one, Walker’s presence was what drove the Fast & Furious brand to town, literally. He was the lead in the movie and to finish off filming it without him is next to impossible. Even if the filmmaker attempts to pull it off, there will just not be any closure for the fans.
Walker’s character can’t be just written off either. The first movie in the series was released in 2001 and the actor has since been an integral part of the franchise. Fast & Furious proved unusually enduring. Released in May, Fast & Furious 6 was the most lucrative of them all, grossing more than $788 million worldwide. The seventh installment began shooting in September, with a release planned for July. The film's production was on break with more shooting to be done.
The actor’s death
hasn’t just left a void in the franchise, but in the lives of those who were closely associated with the project. "Brother I will miss you very much,” wrote Hollywood star Diesel on his Instagram account. “I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace."
Another Fast and Furious co-star, Ludacris, wrote on Twitter
: "Your humble spirit was felt from the start, wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers & our birthdays are only 1 day apart, now You will forever hold a place in all of our hearts @paulwalker legacy will live on forever."
Walker’s death has come as a huge shock for those who knew him or admired his talent. While it is still a period of mourning just hours after the actor’s death, there is nothing much the filmmakers can do at this stage — it’s not like they know what to do anyway. "I am so beyond heartbroken right now. I can't process anything," tweeted Wan after Walker’s fatal accident.