Paul Walker may be gone, but he’s definitely not forgotten.
Vin Diesel, who headlines the upcoming film “F9,” the ninth film in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, says Walker, who starred as Brian O’Conner in the series, is still very much a presence in the movies.
“This film, you clearly bring up Paul and his legacy throughout the film, as well. He’s never gone. He's never forgotten in this franchise,” Natalie Morales said while speaking to Diesel Tuesday on TODAY.
“Ever, ever, ever,” he replied. “I never think I'm continuing the franchise in his absence. I always feel like I'm continuing the franchise in his honor.”
Walker died in a car accident in 2013 at the age of 40. He has appeared posthumously in some of the movies, and his daughter, Meadow, who remains tight with Diesel's kids, recently walked the red carpet for the "F9" premiere.
- Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.
- Sign up for the TODAY Newsletter!
Diesel, who named his daughter Pauline after Walker, says working on these movies has been an amazing experience because it’s enabled him to be surrounded by people who’ve become more than just co-workers.
“That's ultimately what the true blessing is, work with people that you love,” he said.
Diesel can also pinpoint what is so appealing about the franchise to fans.
“I believe, at the end of the day, people come to ‘Fast’ because the characters, we want to know what happens next," he said. "We want to know how they evolve.”
The first “Fast and the Furious” film hit theaters in 2001 and Diesel says the next film in the series, which is currently in pre-production, will be the last. He says it’s hard to imagine the impact the movies has had.
“It's so surreal to come full circle and to see something completed like that,” he said. “I don't often reflect back enough on stuff that I've done. I always feel like I'm a minute away from having to produce the next film.”
“F9” was postponed from its original release date last year and Diesel hopes it’s coming out at the perfect time to get people back into movie theaters after the pandemic.
“Last year, I might have been frustrated. Now I feel like we're here just in time to salvage that theatrical experience,” he said.
“F9” comes out Friday only in theaters.