Fate of the Furious, the eighth Fast & Furious film, marks the first movie in the series made after Paul Walker's death. And, as loyal fans know, Walker's legacy is never far from the franchise. Stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and Tyrese Gibson have all spoken about making this new film in Walker's honor, and the Fate of the Furious filmmakers decided to pay tribute not just to the actor, but to his character. The Paul Walker tribute in Fate of the Furious is one worth waiting for, and just might make you cry.
Fans of the franchise will remember that the last installment, Furious 7, ended with a touching tribute to Walker, who died midway through filming in 2013. The movie ended with Walker's beloved character, Detective Brian O'Conner, driving off into the sunset followed by a tearjerking montage of Walker's moments throughout the franchise (he appeared in all but one of the seven Fast & Furious films before his death). But if you thought that the series' tribute to Walker would end there, you were sorely mistaken.
Spoilers ahead! In the new film, Fate of the Furious, Dom Toretto (Diesel) finds out he has a baby boy with Elena (Elsa Pataky), and Cypher (Charlize Theron) uses that child to blackmail him into working with her against his own team. It's not until the end of the film that the baby's name is revealed: Brian.
If there's one theme that ties all Fast & Furious films together, it's not cars, it's family. It's fitting, then that the new film honor Walker by reinforcing Brian's connection to the family. In an interview with USA Today, Diesel called the Dom's decision to name his son Brian "the greatest tribute" to Walker. In fact, the homage to the character actually echoes Diesel's own personal tribute to Walker. Almost two years after his co-star's death, Diesel named his newborn daughter Pauline in honor of his beloved colleague and friend. "There's no other person that I'm thinking about as I'm cutting this umbilical cord," he said on Today following the birth. "I knew he was there and I felt like, you know, a way to keep his memory a part of my memory, a part of my world."
Diesel and the rest of the Fate of the Furious cast have been honoring Walker off screen as they promote the film. "There wasn't a second we made this movie, not a minute, not a day that went by that we weren't thinking about our brother Pablo: how to bring him into the movie, how to represent him, and how to make something that he would be proud of," Diesel told the crowd at the Fate of the Furious world premiere in New York City, according to On Air With Ryan. "Pablo, I hope you are proud tonight." Aww.