When Paul Walker died in November 2013, halfway through filming on Furious 7, the filmmakers decided his character, Brian O’Conner, would live on.
The last time audiences saw Brian, he was literally driving off into the sunset at the end of the 2015 film. “We took a lot of care in crafting that last end sequence,” Furious 7 director James Wan said at the time.
So, since Brian is still very much alive in this action-heavy cinematic universe, many were wondering how The Fate of the Furious would handle the character’s absence.
Turns out, Brian is mentioned twice in The Fate of the Furious.
The first time comes about halfway through the film, when Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) insists the crew leave him out of their latest high-stakes drama. It’s a quick, cough-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.
“You know the first thing that team would do under normal circumstances is say, ‘We gotta get Brian!’” Chris Morgan, who has written every Fast and Furious movie since 2006’s Tokyo Drift. “They’d be like, ‘Where is Brian? Where is Mia [Jordana Brewster]?’”
But in “In the world of Fast and Furious, Dominic Toretto going dark is such an earth shaking thing,” Morgan said. “If Dom goes dark, they’re going to have something to say about it so there was a need to address why would they not approach them. We didn’t want to overdo it, so we just put in one line just to suggest why they’d try to handle it on their own.”
But in "In the world of Fast and Furious, Dominic Toretto going dark is such an earth shaking thing," Morgan said. "If Dom goes dark, they're going to have something to say about it so there was a need to address why would they not approach them. We didn't want to overdo it, so we just put in one line just to suggest why they'd try to handle it on their own."
But there’s no mistaking the second time Brian’s name comes up in Fate of the Furious.
Dom pairs up with cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), who is always one step ahead of them. And it’s revealed that’s because she kidnapped his infant son — a child Dom never knew existed! Apparently at some point while he thought Letty was dead, Dom and Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) had sex and before she could tell him she was pregnant with his baby, Elena was kidnapped. In Fate of the Furious, Dom is reunited with Elena and is introduced to their son aboard Cipher’s enormous plane, where she’s been holding Elena and the baby captive in a seriously high-tech cell. And because Elena believes a father should bestow a first name on his son, the baby doesn’t have a name yet.
As he always does, Dom triumphs over the bad guys and rescues his son from Cipher, although not before Cipher kills Elena.
And, as these films always do, The Fate of the Furious ends with the team celebrating their victory at a family dinner.
It’s while surrounded by his loved ones that Dom announces he’s named his son Brian! “We not only wanted the name to honor Paul, but also the character of Brian in our world,” Morgan said. “It was one of those things that just felt right.”
It’s a beautiful moment that pays tribute to how Brian changed Dom’s life. And it also imitates Diesel’s real-life homage to Walker by naming his daughter Pauline in March 2015 as a tribute to Walker.
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