[This story contains spoilers for F9.]
F9 pushes the limit of the Fast and Furious franchise, featuring magnet-fueled car chases and even sending part of the Fast family to space. Yet a much simpler scene required some creative filmmaking, too.
In the final moments of F9, the entire family comes together for a barbeque. Just before Dom (Vin Diesel) says a prayer for the meal, he pauses to note, “There’s still an empty chair.” That empty chair, of course, belongs to Brian O’Connor, the character the late Paul Walker made world famous. Mia (Jordana Brewster) notes, “He’s on the way,” and the scene cuts to a blue Nissan Skyline GT-R, which fans of the franchise know belongs to Brian, who is still alive in the film series, though he no longer appears on camera.
“A lot of that scene was shot piecemeal,” Brewster tells The Hollywood Reporter, noting it was a challenge to get the whole crew toegether.
There was talk of filming that moment at the actual Fast and Furious house in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood, but scheduling saw the scene filmed in London, with various members of the cast coming at different times.
“We also had weather issues,” says Brewster. “There’d be a couple of hours where it was sunny and we’d run and shoot and we’d wait a bunch of hours and it would start raining and we couldn’t.”
Because not all members of the cast were there together, Brewster even ended up working some with the driver for director Justin Lin.
“I’m carrying the potato salad or whatever I’m bringing to the barbeque and I see Justin’s driver standing in for the actor I’m supposed to come in and hug and speak Portuguese to,” recalls Brewster with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘Justin, what up? I don’t understand.’”
Brewster, whose character Mia shares two children with the late Walker’s Brian, honored Brian by wearing a bracelet with his name while filming, as well as bracelets with the names of their fictional children. Walker died in 2014, but his character has been honored in the franchise with nods in Fate of the Furious (2017) and now, F9.
Says Brewster: “When Brian’s Skyline pulled up and I saw it in the theater, I was balling. Every time we honor Brian within the universe, it’s really special.”