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Hollywood scrambles after Paul Walker's death

  • Jordana Brewster, Vin Diesel, director Justin Lin, Michelle Rodriguez and Paul Walker at a "Fast and Furious 4" photocall in Lille, France. (Mark Renders/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — The death of actor Paul Walker in an automobile accident Saturday has left fans and the film community reeling — and Hollywood facing a series of tricky business decisions.

As filmmakers and fellow performers remembered him as a deeply likable everyman with a taste for adventure, principals on the late actor's signature “Fast & Furious” franchise were left to deal with Walker's tragic passing on the screen.

Walker's death in a single-car crash in Santa Clarita, Calif., came as he was preparing to resume production on “Fast & Furious 7,” with a return to the Atlanta set scheduled for Monday to shoot more scenes as rogue ex-cop Brian O'Conner.

Paul Walker (1973-2013)

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Earlier in the fall, Walker had shot an unspecified number of scenes for the car-themed action picture, which this go-round centers on a vengeful rivalry between racing crews.

With Walker's death, director James Wan, lead producer Neal Moritz and executives at Universal Pictures have a decision to make on the film, set for release July 11.

It is believed that there is not nearly enough material in the can to close O'Conner's character arc in the picture, which would mean rewriting the script to allow for a new resolution — a complicated and timely process — or cutting Walker out of the film entirely. Walker's planned scenes this week will almost certainly mean a schedule shuffle and could also lead to production being halted.

Universal would not comment beyond a brief condolence message sent to reporters by a spokeswoman late Saturday. Moritz did not reply to a request for comment on plans for “Fast 7” in the wake of Walker's death.

While the sudden passing of a director can throw an entire project into jeopardy — Tony Scott's suicide in summer 2012 effectively derailed a planned “Top Gun” reboot — actor deaths have often meant the film is released as a tribute of sorts, providing their work has been completed. James Gandolfini, Heath Ledger and James Dean all had well-received posthumous releases.

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