"The Fast and the Furious" franchise is known for a lot of crazy stunts and gorgeous cars. But the latest installment, "The Fate of the Furious," has a special resonance for actor Scott Eastwood.
Eastwood, the son of Oscar-winner Clint, was good friends with "Furious" star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in 2013 while taking a break from filming "Furious 7," which was ultimately released two years later. And in many ways, Eastwood is stepping into the vacancy created by Walker's absence in the new film.
"He was [a good friend]," Eastwood told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie Wednesday.
We don't doubt it. When Eastwood was cast in the role last year, he sent out a heartfelt Instagram with a message for fans and Walker alike:
It's hard to put into words how excited I am for the next Fast & Furious. To me, the series is so much more than just a franchise. It’s a legacy. These great actors who have been in it together for so long have become a family. I absolutely can’t wait to join it. Now I can’t say too much, but I get to play a new character who operates under Kurt Russell in the movie, which is incredible, because Kurt was a total childhood hero of mine growing up. Very much looking forward to learning a thing or two from such an original and cool guy. Paul was a close friend of mine. We surfed together, traveled together, and he was a huge role model and influencing figure in my life when I was younger. He still is. He was an older brother to me. For me to be able to add to the F&F story, Paul’s story, and the FAST family is like a dream come true. Gary Gray and Neal Moritz - I can’t wait to get started and dive in. Vin - thank you for the support and the insight. Paul - I am going to make you proud. #F8
On the show Wednesday, Eastwood also acknowledged that Walker's absence was very present on the set while filming. "It was on my mind, it was on everybody's mind who was friends with him [while] making the film, the entire cast," he said.
"Ultimately I decided, 'What better way to continue his legacy than to keep making these films that everybody loves so much?'" added Eastwood.
At 31, Eastwood has an ease with the camera and a poise beyond his years, but it's quite possible he learned about Hollywood from the master: his dad. So did he get any advice from The Man With No Name about how to do his job?
"'Shut up and listen,'" Eastwood revealed on Wednesday with a grin. "That's a life tip."
It sure is!
"Fate of the Furious" opens in theaters on Friday, April 14.