EXCLUSIVE: Vin Diesel on Filming First 'Furious' Without Paul Walker: 'I'm Still Reeling From the Loss'
The release of Fate of the Furious -- the latest installment in the high octane Fast & Furious franchise -- is a bittersweet moment for the film's cast, it being the first fully filmed since Paul Walker's death in 2013. As fans will remember, Walker died during filming of Furious 7, which was released last year and gave the actor an emotional farewell from the franchise.
While Walker may be gone, he's definitely not forgotten -- and he was certainly being remembered fondly by the cast of Fate when ET's Kevin Frazier caught up with them on the red carpet at the movie's premiere in New York on Saturday.
"I'm still reeling from the loss, the idea of of continuing along without my brother Pablo and what that felt like and the complexities of that," admits Vin Diesel, using his nickname for Walker.
The 49-year-old actor was especially close with Walker, naming his now 2-year-old daughter, Pauline, after him. And, Diesel says, it's not just when he's filming Furious films that he misses his friend. "If I ever had a concern or something, I would call him," he reveals. "And I don't have that call now and I don't have that person that's dreaming up the impossible with me."
The theme of the Furious movies has always been about the importance of family, and the Toretto crew's fictional closeness was mirrored by real-life closeness between the cast, as Diesel noted. "One of the things that makes this film so magical, the relationships are so powerful that they bleed off screen," he says.
But the darker tone of Fate than some of its predecessors is no accident, says Michelle Rodriguez. "We didn't want to jump in and pretend that everything's OK after such a big loss," she tells ET. "You kind of have to reinvent the thing and go dark before coming out of it."
Even Furious newcomer Scott Eastwood felt the absence of Walker, and opened up to ET about what it was like joining such a close-knit cast in the much-loved actor's footsteps. "There's no replacing Paul, ever! Ever, ever, ever!" he says. "Paul was a good friend to all of us, this is his family."
At the premiere, Diesel introduced the movie with a few words about his friend. "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," he said. "How to bring him into the movie, how to represent him, and how to make something that he would be proud of. Pablo, I hope you are proud tonight."
It has been more than three years since Walker died tragically in a car accident after attending a charity event in Santa Clarita, California. Last November, his Furious cast-mates paid tribute on the anniversary of his death -- see what they had to say in this video.