‘Fate of the Furious’ Screenwriter Chris Morgan on That Big Paul Walker Nod

Please be aware this post has major Fate of the Furious SPOILERS. We’re talking spoilers the size of Dwayne Johnson’s muscles, so if you haven’t watched the film yet, you should get outta here.

As the first film in the Fast & Furious franchise after the tragic death of Paul Walker, Fate of the Furious had a tricky tightrope to walk. In case you forgot, Furious 7 ended by sending Brian and Dom on one last ride as they smiled at each other and turned down different forks in the road to the tune of Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” a touching send-off for Walker, who was a key component in the heart of the franchise, and a move that let Brian live out his days smiling on the beach with Mia and the kids. It made for the perfect ending to Brian’s chapter in the Furious saga, but for Fate of the Furious, it meant the filmmakers had to acknowledge why Brian wouldn’t be there for the darkest chapter in Dom’s life and give Walker a loving in-memory nod at the same time.

With Fate of the Furious now in theaters, Steve recently caught up with long-time Furious screenwriter Chris Morgan, who filled us in about how Furious 7 was originally supposed to end and how they coped with the challenge of honoring Walker’s memory in Fate without stretching the bounds of logic. For the most part, they pull it off well. Any mention of Brian is inherently going to bring the sad reality crashing down on audiences for a minute, but you also can’t ignore him. Morgan addressed that directly in his screenplay in the moment where the team debates bringing in Brian to solve the Dom problem before emphatically shutting down the idea. Brian got out of the life and they won’t take that away from him.

Image via Universal Pictures

Here’s what Morgan had to say:

“In terms of this movie, with that ending we really just wanted to touch, for the audience as well as for the characters, the issue of Brian and the issue of Paul and specifically—spoilers, so you’re gonna have to figure out how you say this or don’t say this, but what the characters go through in this movie is super dramatic, basically their entire world gets shattered. The guy who is their father figure, their brother, their husband, who’s taught them their moral code, suddenly betrays it all, goes rogue, goes against them, and it becomes a real question of faith.

 

So, do you guys just fall apart? Do you stick together? It’s so dramatic for the characters that at some point they would definitely turn to each other and say, ‘Oh my God, we gotta tell Brian, we gotta tell Mia. Something is going on with Dom, we don’t know what it is’ So I think from a practical point of view for the characters you needed to address it. For the audience, and just as a fan as the writer on it, I also wanted to have one moment where we were able to—specifically at the beat at the end of the film—say to the audience, ‘We’re thinking of him too’ in a respectful sort of way.”

That beat is, of course, the moment where Dom Toretto finally announces the name of his new newfound son, Brian. Of course it’s Brian, it always had to be Brian. At the same time, it’s kind of funny considering Brian’s still alive. Do people name kids after their still-living best friends? I like to imagine how hard of a ribbing Brian’s gonna give Dom when he finds out. Cultural naming norms aside, it’s a lovely way to end the film on a beat of remembrance for Walker.

Image via Universal

The Fate of the Furious was not only the first film after Walker’s death, it’s the first film in what Morgan and Vin Diesel are describing as a new trilogy in the franchise. While Morgan hasn’t put pen to paper on the next two scripts yet, he and Diesel have planned out an outline for for the next two films, promising that the things they set up in Fate will pay off in the ninth and tenth film. That outline includes more for Charlize Theron‘s villainous superhacker, Cipher, who parachuted to safety at the end of the film. Per Morgan, Theron came into the film with a good idea of where her character is heading.

“We’d talked about bigger mythology and kind of where the character will go. It’s always kind of bigger discussions but we set out from the beginning to do 8,9, and 10 so that’s how we’re designing it. Vin and I have always kind of worked on it, we’re always thinking forward, fractioning ideas around and outlining things, but I’m not writing on it just yet.”

So, when will Morgan officially start writing the next sequel? Well, he wouldn’t say specifics beyond “when the studio officially decides,” but judging by the box office receipts that’s going to be pretty soon. However, Morgan did offer a fun bit of insight into how he and Diesel use their love of D&D to fuel each new script.

“It’s no secret that Vin is a big D&D guy and so am I, and we kind of look at the franchise kind of like the way someone would run a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Every movie is like a challenge for the characters and if they solve the plot then they kind of level-up emotionally in some way. So we’re always thinking about it in the greater kind of saga and the greater mythology, so we’re always working on it. When I actually physically start writing it is when the studio comes in and says, ‘Alright go. We have a date and got this and now we’re going.'”

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