This post contains spoilers for Fast X.
The late Varsity Blues actor died in a car accident at age 40 while production on Furious 7 was still underway. Rather than have his character, Brian O’Conner, die in the film as well, Diesel, 55, and the film’s other producers decided to have Brian simply retire from street racing.
“We stopped filming Furious 7 for about five months because we were wrapping our heads around what we were going to do, while mourning,” the XXX star told E! News in June 2021. “And the studio accepted a bold decision, which was to allow the character to exist in our mythology.”
At the end of the 2015 film, Brian gave up his life of high-speed crime-fighting to spend time with his pregnant wife, Mia (Jordana Brewster), and their son, Jack. In 2021’s F9, Mia explained Brian’s absence by telling the crew that he was at home babysitting their kids. At the end of the movie, the group left an empty seat for him at the dinner table, and a car — seemingly driven by Brian — was shown pulling up to the house at the last minute.
Brian’s life at home is still running smoothly in Fast X, which hit theaters on Friday, May 19. While there is no new footage of the character, the movie incorporates flashbacks from 2011’s Fast Five that feature Brian.
“You will see Brian in the past, you won’t see Brian in the present,” director Louis Leterrier told Total Film ahead of the film’s release. “It’s something that everybody has to be on board with. The Walker family is still very much a part of this franchise, you’ll see how in this movie. It just has to be the right moment, the right tone.”
The late star’s brothers, Cody Walker and Caleb Walker, filled in for him in some Furious 7 scenes, but they did not return for Fast X. There’s still a family connection, however — Paul’s daughter, Meadow Walker, has a cameo in the movie as a flight attendant who waits on Jakob (John Cena).
The model, 24, has maintained a close relationship with Diesel and her father’s other costars since his passing. When Meadow — whom Paul shared with ex Rebecca Soteros — married Louis Thornton-Allan in October 2021, the Guardians of the Galaxy star walked her down the aisle.
“[Meadow] counts Vin and his kids as family and will talk to them on days she’s struggling, and she has their backs too,” an insider exclusively told Us Weekly in June 2021. “Paul’s spirit and love definitely shines on through Meadow, and she believes he’s looking down and protecting her from heaven.”
Diesel, for his part, has been open about his close relationship with Meadow over the years. “She’s the first person on Father’s Day to wish me Happy Father’s Day,” the California native told Extra in June 2021. “To see her with my children is one of the most beautiful things. There are moments when I see her playing with [my daughter] Pauline and it hits me so deep, ’cause I can only imagine what my brother [Paul] sees when he sees that.”
Fast X is in theaters now.