Performance of Paul Walker in Fast & Furious 7: Modes of Performance in Digital Realm

Almost only half of scenes in Fast&Furious 7 had been finished when one of main actors of this film—Paul Walker—suddenly died. This incident stopped the whole process. It became a big question whether this film could be continually produced or not.  And finally the solution of this problem is that recreating the image of Paul Walker on screen based on all shots of him in former films of this series and making his two brothers as his stand-in. It can be said that in Fast&Furious 7, the image of main character is created by digital tools.747dcfae-07c0-4205-af91-07d2272d4daf_16x9_788x442

This phenomena reminds me of a kind of assumption that emerged into my mind several times. Do films really need actual persons as actors to establish characters on screen in the future? Do actors need to perform every actions in the story? I have thought that if digital tools were developed enough then existence of real persons were just like some basic data sources and once it had been recorded by computers, a thousand kinds of actions, movements, facial expressions can be created without actors actually perform in a scene. However, it might changes the film industry that it devalues actors/actress which is almost most important part in this industry. Prince argues that “Nothing ever happens for the first time in film history, and we can learn about contemporary imaging modes by keeping in mind the bridge between art and science which gave birth to the movies.”(2012,P.11).In that kind of tendency of film’s development which mentioned above, Is the balance between human’s art and technology in the realm of film tipped towards technologies or film becomes more like literary creation that has a specific author who can decide the whole production intrinsically?

As for the performance of Paul Walker in Fast & Furious 7,  should the award go to technology ,the actor himself, or those people who manipulate digital tools to create his image on screen? Movie is gave birth both by art and technology, but maybe the concept will be more concise cause all technologies in this realm sever certain needs which is the appeal of people’s imagination and creativity. It is not the bridge between art and technology that gives birth to film but the desire of people to cross this bridge gives new birth to film.


Stephen Prince. Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality. New York: Rutgers University Press, 2012.

By Yi Zhang

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