Fast & Furious 9 May Recast Paul Walker, and That's Not Okay

Samantha Vincenty
Photo credit: Newspix - Getty Images

From Oprah Magazine

  • Fast & Furious 9 is set for release in 2020.
  • Charlize Theron has shared the first new image of her character, Cipher.
  • Shooting wrapped on November 11, 2019.
  • Paul Walker's character, Brian O'Conner, may be recast.

When The Fast and the Furious first debuted in 2001, it was a simple summer B-movie best described as "like Point Break, but instead of surfing, tricked-out Honda Civics drive under trucks." Yet the heist film, starring a then little-known Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, wildly exceeded box office expectations—and seven sequels later, the Fast & Furious universe has grown in scope, budgets, stunts, and cast size with every release.

We're living in the 18th year of Fast & Furious movies, and there's every reason to believe that Universal Pictures will ride this behemoth 'til the wheels fall off. Our grandchildren may very well ask us to take them to Fast & Furious 26: Brian Marcos Drives in Space one day, and we should honestly be so lucky! For now, though, we know there are two more sequels on deck, with Fast & Furious 9 up next—following the international success of Hobbs & Shaw, of course.

Eagerly anticipating Fast 9? Buckle up (but don't hit that NOS button too soon, Junior): Here's everything we know about Fast & Furious 9 so far.

Fast 9 may recast the late Paul Walker's character.

Until his accidental death in 2013, Paul Walker played Brian O'Conner, undercover cop-turned-street racer-turned Toretto family member. Walker starred in six of the Fast franchise's first seven movies, until his character retired from the dangerous life of car heists to be a family man at the end of Furious 7 (his scenes were finished posthumously via CGI and his brothers, Caleb and Cody, standing in). But as of November 2019, rumors have surfaced that the film recasts Walker's character. If true, this choice is unequivocally bad and wrong.

The possibility first surfaced in a tweet from entertainment writer Daniel Richtman, who teased the scoop on November 3. "Just got a new casting grid for something and with it some big news that are sure to be controversial," he tweeted. "Not sure how I feel about it myself but we'll see." Two weeks later he spilled it: "They are bringing Paul Walker's character, Brian, to FF9."

News that Jordana Brewster, who's returning to Fast 9 as Brian's partner Mia Toretto, sparked worries that Brian would die offscreen. This is absolutely worse, if true—Universal has yet to confirm this rumor, and most outlets reporting it cite Richtman's tweets. Two things we know for sure: This franchise adores surprise cameos, and they love flashbacks too. The prospect of casting another stand-in for new Frankenstein-ed CGI scenes featuring Walker's Brian is gross; he already got the perfect goodbye in Furious 7. The idea of a brand-new Brian is grosser.

Walker brought a singular warmth and energy to the role of Brian O'Conner; he had my heart from the moment he rolled up in that 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse. As enjoyable as the previous film was, Walker was the glue that held the entire ensemble together. Here's to hoping this is all some terrible misunderstanding.

Charlize Theron is returning as Cipher.

Charlize Theron has two words for you: "She’s baaaaack."

The actress shared the first image of Cipher, the villainous cyberterrorist first introduced in The Fate of the Furious, as she'll appear in Fast & Furious 9. Cipher has (blessedly) shed her dreadlocks in favor of a short, no-nonsense chop. Several celebrities chimed in with reactions to the sneak peek, including co-star Tyrese, who wrote, "Damn we missed you!!"

Michael B. Jordan replied with the pair-of-eyes emoji, while January Jones said "This hair is next level good. But would only look good on you."

Theron also posted a snap of her chair on set (it says Cipher) in front of a whole lot of gear and, of course, a vehicle that's undoubtedly fast.



And Cardi B will make a splash.

On October 22, Vin Diesel took to Instagram to confirm that the rapper and Hustlers star will indeed join the cast. "Day 86 here on the set of Fast 9. I know I'm exhausted. We gave everything we could," Diesel said, with Cardi B chiming in, "I think this is gonna be the best one."

When is the Fast & Furious 9 release date?

It's set to hit theaters on May 22, 2020. The spring opening date is in keeping with previous sequels, which have seen an April or May release every two years.

Based on that biennial schedule, Fast 9 was originally slated for April 19, 2019—but they hadn't locked down a director in time. The premiere was then moved to April 10, 2020, but Universal announced in February 2019 that the studio would be pushing it back slightly.

Was Hobbs & Shaw Fast & Furious 9?

No. Hobbs & Shaw was the first spinoff movie in the Fast & Furious franchise, with Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson and Jason Statham reprising their respective roles as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. Released on August 2, 2019, it co-stars The Crown's Vanessa Kirby, and Idris Elba as a new baddie named Brixton (because this series continues to cast the hottest villains ever). Helen Mirren appears as Deckard's mother Magdalene Shaw, introduced in The Fate of the Furious, aka Fast 8.

The film was co-written by Chris Morgan, a Fast & Furious vet who has written on every installment save for the first two movies. Morgan told ComicBook.com that the filmmakers ultimately decided against packing Hobbs & Shaw with character cameos from the extended Fast & Furious universe. The film did feature surprise cameos from Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart and Rob Delaney, thus introducing new, potentially-recurring characters to the Fast and Furious universe.

"We've always talked about, all the world's interconnect," Morgan told the site. "The good news about the spinoff is that it happens in our universe, it happens in our timeline." He also confirmed that the plot will "have repercussions down the road," so it may directly affect Fast 9's story.

Who else is in the Fast & Furious 9 cast?

Nearly every surviving member of Dominic Toretto's fictional chosen family will appear in the film, save for core founding member Brian O'Conner (due to Paul Walker's still-completely-upsetting accidental death in 2013). And as every Fast & Furious fan knows, it IS all about family.

Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, and Nathalie Emmanuel are back as Dominic, Letty, Tej, Roman, and Ramsey. In early July, the gang snapped a pic on set as they celebrated Rodriguez's birthday.

Days later, they toasted Diesel's birthday on set, serenading him as he took a scooter ride. The cake is amazing.

A bigger surprise is Jordana Brewster's return as Mia Toretto, Dominic's sister and the mother of Brian O'Conner's children. Brewster's character exited the franchise alongside Brian at the end of Furious 7, as a happy way to wrap up the late Walker's storyline. What that means for Brian's fate remains to be seen, though killing Brian off offscreen sounds too ice cold to be true.

Notably, though Helen Mirren has signed on, The Rock and Jason Statham have yet to be announced as returning—hopefully, that's an effort to curb Hobbs & Shaw spoilers for those who haven't seen it yet.

Also joining: Finn Cole of Animal Kingdom and Peaky Blinders, Anne Sawai, and (rumored, but praying it's true) Lucas Black, first introduced as the star of Tokyo Drift. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Latin reggaeton singer Ozuna is joining as well.

John Cena joins the Fast family in an unknown role.

Dwayne Johnson and Ronda Rousey aren't the only WWE stars in the franchise anymore, as actor-wrestler John Cena has signed on. (Roman Reigns appears in Hobbs & Shaw, as well). Vin Diesel shared the Cena-centric news with fans in a July 8, 2019, Instagram video.

Diesel said he believes Cena will "completely shine in this movie," before launching into musings on his favorite shooting locations (which included an ode to the Dominican Republic).

Cena's expressed his own excitement about his casting. "For nearly 20 years, the Fast Franchise has entertained fans and created some of the biggest cinematic moments in history," he tweeted. "It’s an incredible honor to join this franchise and this family."

Who is Fast & Furious 9's director?

Justin Lin is directing, and production began in June 2019. Lin's return to the franchise is exciting, as he has previously directed Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6.

Lin's updates from the set include a massive cast and crew pic, captioned "Fast Family." The photo also includes the car Vin Diesel was gifted for his birthday, a custom 1970 Dodge Charger. Diesel later gave Lin a present of his own: An on-set basketball hoop.

The filmmaker's cast tributes include odes to Jordana Brewster, who plays Dominic's sister Mia Toretto, and to Tyrese, who joined the Fast franchise in the second film.

"One of the unsung heroes of our #Fastfamily. So proud to watch Tyrese grow and evolve over the years—not only as an actor but as a human being," Lin wrote. "Anything worth working towards doesn’t come easily, and to know that Ty is there no matter what makes all the difference. 15 years in and we’re still laughing as we work, that says it all."

According to Vin Diesel, Lin will helm Fast & Furious 10 as well.

Where does the movie take place?

The franchise has taken its characters everywhere in the world, previously setting its high-octane stunts in places like Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, and Havana. This sequel will be no exception.

Filming kicked off on June 24, 2019, in England. In an interview with Access Hollywood, star and producer Vin Diesel suggested they'll shoot in Africa for the first time, and unconfirmed reports say it will be shot in Thailand as well.

On September 1, Diesel announced that the film was officially halfway through production. "Remember when I told you that there was gonna be a really intense scene?" he said in a behind-the-scenes video, standing in front of dozens of beautiful women clad in all-white and all-red outfits. Diesel deems it, quote, "a European take on an opulent version of a tuna party." Though he definitely says "tuna party" twice, whether that phrase makes it into the Fast 9 script remains to be seen.



Shooting wrapped in November 11, 2019. Director Justin Lin shared the news with a big thank you to everyone involved in the multi-city production. "It’s an official #F9 Wrap! This is by far the most ambitious film of the series and I am forever grateful to our amazing crew from London, Edinburgh, Tbilisi (Georgia), Phuket & Krabi (Thailand), and Los Angeles."

Is there a Fast & Furious 9 trailer?

Not yet—but as soon as there is, we'll let you know.

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