This is both touching and fascinating.
After Paul Walker died in a November 2013 car accident filming Furious 7, director James Wan and the visual effects team were tasked with digitally re-creating the late franchise star in several scenes to complete the film.
Filmmakers didn’t want to discuss which shots were which at the time of the film’s release, as they thought it would be distracting.
But nearly two years after the star’s death, the film’s creative team at Weta has revealed out of the 350 shots they worked on, a few scenes in which that they had to re-create the actor were especially challenging to pull off.
Surprisingly, artists said that the fast-paced action scenes were the easier scenes to work on. Visual-effects supervisor Martin Hill said the toughest were:
“Scenes such as Paul sitting still, or delivering dialogue in closeup, because you don’t have the action and the kinetic cutting to help distract from the effects.”
The team used a combination of old footage of Walker, scans of his brothers Cody and Caleb, as well as actor John Brotherton, who matched Walker’s body type.
Here were the three scenes they revealed were the toughest to recreate:
First, a scene of Brian (Walker) speeding through the desert while Dom (Vin Diesel) aids an injured Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). Hill said:
“Paul is trying to get to Los Angeles quickly, and is also reacting in a subtle way to the injured Kurt Russell in the backseat. The performance was very nuanced… That’s a high bar in itself, to create that. Beyond that, this actor was known to millions of fans, and this had to be Paul Walker├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥more specifically, Walker in character as Brian O’Conner.”
Next, a pivotal moment in the film for Walker’s character took place after that car jump between skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi, after Dom asks Brian: “Still missing those bullets, Bri?”
In the scene, Brian has to choose between his family or continuing to risk his life with the gang — which called for a very “nuanced performance,” according to Wan.
And the Weta team delivered!
Lastly, the gang is lined up shoulder-to-shoulder in El Lay strategizing their next move. This scene was the most difficult, because Hill was challenged with making walker give:
“Meaningful looks to the others and [deliver] dialog, and he’s full frame. That visual effects work had to be invisible.”
The team pulled it off so beautifully, that the shot was featured for the film’s main ad campaign, and Walker’s emotional performance was completed.
[Image via Universal Pictures.]