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Furious 7’s long road to the big screen reached the finish line Wednesday at the world premiere in Los Angeles.
Star Vin Diesel and producer Neal Mortiz were both visibly emotional when speaking about the loss of star Paul Walker at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood before the screening.
“This movie is more than a movie,” said Diesel. “There’s something emotional that happens to you where you walk out of this movie, and you appreciate everyone you love because you just never know when the last day is that you’ll see them.”
The passing of Walker, who died in a car crash in November 2013, pushed back the release of the Universal film as the studio and filmmakers took time to mourn the death of the star, and rethink the ending of the film to give Walker’s character’s storyline a proper ending.
“I’m going to tell you, last year it was really tough to come back to work,” said Diesel of returning to the film after the death of Walker. But he added that the support of his castmates, Universal and director James Wan helped him to return to complete the project.
Along with Diesel and Moritz, many of the stars of the franchise attended the premiere, including Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Jason Statham, Ludacris and Luke Evans. Walker’s younger brothers, Caleb and Cody, who stepped in to help finish the film after their brother’s death, also attended the premiere. The passionate audience was quick to cheer when Walker first appeared onscreen, throughout the late actor’s especially action-packed scenes and during the final moments of the film.
Wan, who made a big step up from his successful horror projects like Saw and The Conjuring to direct Furious 7, said he still gets emotional watching the film despite seeing it numerous times during the editing process.
“Every time I see the ending of that film, it still hits me so hard,” he told THR at the afterparty. “I made this movie, I made that ending, and it still gets me.”
At the afterparty at the Roosevelt Hotel, moviegoers were in a good mood, enjoying food and drinks while surrounded by gold-covered go-go dancers. Diesel was spotted taking photos with Universal’s Donna Langley, whom he earlier in the night described as “my sister, Donna Langley” because of all her support of the franchise. But, above all, Walker was on everyone’s mind.
Star Ludacris agreed with Wan that it could be difficult to watch Walker’s final performance.
“It’s hard to watch, but it’s so good at the same time,” he told THR. “I love how we ended it creatively.”
Ludacris, who joined the franchise in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, and then returned for Fast Five and Fast 6, was also quick to emphasize Diesel’s role in safeguarding the franchise as a producer.
“People don’t give Vin enough credit. He really eats, sleeps and shits these movies,” he told THR. “I think Vin needs to get more credit because he really fights to keep the integrity of everyone’s character, not just his own.”
Moritz, who has produced all of the films in the franchise, wrapped up his remarks with his thoughts on Walker as well.
“I know Paul is smiling down on us right now,” he said to the crowd. “We love you forever, Paul. And you will always be a part of all of us.”
Furious 7 hits theaters on Friday.
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