Earlier this week, we were among those in the audience for the first ever Fast and Furious 7 screening at SXSW. It was an emotional affair, to say the least. It's not often you watch a movie where The Rock walks down a street shooting a helicopter out of the sky with a massive gatling gun that ends with everyone in the audience crying, but there we were. An entire audience still processing the grief and sadness of the death of Paul Walker. A few days after that screening, Vin Diesel hosted a similar screening in Los Angeles and introduced the film to the crowd. It was about as sad as you can imagine.
Diesel, whose girlfriend had just given birth a few days earlier, gamely tried to make his way through his speech and was holding it together until he spoke about Walker. “When the tragedy happened...I lost my best friend. I lost my brother.” Diesel had to stop to compose himself. After a few moments of silence, the audience cheers him on. “You got family here, Vin.”
It's a rare show of emotion from an actor we so associate with the stoic block of concrete known as Dom Toretto. But, like his cinematic counterpart, Diesel muscled on and was able to finish the intro, thanking everyone for their support. As the movies often remind us, we're all family.
It can't be easy for Diesel and the cast and crew of Fast and Furious to appear publicly and address the death of their co-star and close friend, and it won't be easy for fans of the franchise to watch the upcoming movie. It's as exhilarating as any of the movies in the series, but you might want to bring a few Kleenex for the ending.
Fast and Furious 7 opens in theaters on April 3.