The loss of Paul Walker wasn’t just tragic, it paved the way for some intricate challenges for the film the actor was making at the time. And seems “Fast & Furious 7” helmer James Wan and screenwriter Chris Morgan have a much tougher, more expensive job on their hands than originally thought- if that’s even possible?
By hiring Walker’s young brothers Cody and Caleb most assumed all that was left to do was insert their backs/faces/eyes – or whatever was needed – into a few of the late actor’s unfinished scenes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s a much more difficult – and more costly – exercise than simply having the boys play stand-in. This is “The Crow” situation – times ten.
A source tells THR, “They are finishing the film more or less as scripted, replacing Paul with [computer-generated] face replacement,” says this person. “They have two of Paul’s brothers as well as an actor to ‘play’ Paul when needed.” (The Walker brothers, 25-year-old Cody and 36-year-old Caleb, both are helping fill in for their brother physically — Caleb primarily for body size and mannerisms and Cody for the eyes. But the filmmakers need to create a character that not only looks like Paul but also performs like him. That’s the actor’s job.) Peter Jackson’s Weta is tackling the effects work using three cameras (in addition to the main-unit cameras) to capture Walker’s stand-ins for face replacement. “There is a massive amount of gear,” reports the source. “Everything they want with Paul gets done three times over. Three [actors] times seven cameras per shot is a clusterf— of money being spent.”
Replacing actors via computer-generated trickery is nothing new – as I said, a lot of Brandon Lee’s scenes had to be completed by way of technology after the actor died on the set of “The Crow” before it’s completion – but this is on a whole other level. I think there’ll be as many people interested in actually looking forward to seeing the movie itself – just for the movie – as there’ll be curious cats keen to play ‘spot the scenes without Paul’ throughout it. Hopefully WETA and everyone else do such a bang-up job that nobody’ll be able to tell which scenes are of human Brian O’Conner and what scenes are of iBrian.
By the looks of these newly-published set photos at The Daily Mail, Jordana Brewster reprised her role as Mia, O’Conner’s wife, for some beach scenes. Cody Walker is standing in for his late brother in the scene- which is presumably O’Conner’s send-off scenes. The film’s producers had previously said they wanted to “retire” Walker’s character – giving him somewhat of a fairytale ending – rather than kill him off. Paul’s face would then, I imagine, be put onto Cody’s later (you can see the dots on Cody’s face – they’re used for alignment purposes).