Fast & Furious 7 filming well under way in Abu Dhabi
Filming for Fast & Furious 7 is in full swing and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Members of the cast, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, shot the same scene – walking down the front steps of the hotel – for about an hour, diving under umbrellas for shade and water in between takes.
Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.
“We’ve been staying at Emirates Palace for about a week,” says Smith, from London. “They’ve been keeping people away from certain areas of the hotel where they’ve been filming. It’s very exciting, though I’m not really a fan of the films. We saw all the cars outside on the first day we were here, but then they must have realised the birds were leaving their droppings on them, so they’ve put covers on them. But you can still see them parked out the back.”
His son, Leo, says: “I can name any of the cars out there, even with the covers on, I am a bit of a car enthusiast. They had Lamborghinis there. There are about a dozen of them.”
Over the past two days, a helicopter has also been spotted filming outside Etihad Towers on the Corniche. Sources reveal that a barge, set up with filming equipment and moored beside the twin buildings, is part of the F&F7 set.
Last night in Abu Dhabi was a case of work and play for two of the film’s stars. The rapper Ludacris was spotted dining with friends at Emirate Palace’s Hakkasan restaurant. He and his entourage entered the Emirates Palace restaurant after 9pm and had dinner in a private room. Meanwhile, Tyrese put his music hat on and fulfilled the promise of working with Emirati singer Mehad Hamad. A picture of the duo recording in the studio was posted on Tyrese’s instagram around 10.30pm with the caption: “We wrapped up our first studio session. We hope to make you proud.”
Earlier today, Universal posted a message to fans on their Facebook page, stating that Paul Walker’s brothers, Caleb and Cody Walker, had stepped in to finish the late actor’s scenes. Tyrese has shared the message on Facebook with the words: “Paul Walker Fans!!! The Fast Cast is in full support of this move!!! Paul’s energy is still with us everyday through his brothers and it has been literally empowering for us all..!!”
The news of Walker’s brothers standing in for him ties up with last month’s reports that actors had been hired “with bodies very similar to Paul’s physique”. It was also reported that CGI would be used to recreate the actor’s face.
Walker had completed much of his part in filming F&F7 before he died in November in a high-speed car crash in California. After his death, Universal suspended filming, before delaying the release date for the film, originally scheduled for this summer. The film is now due to be released on April 10, 2015 in the United States.
The F&F7 cast arrived in Abu Dhabi a few days ago, with Tyrese continually keeping his fans updated, posting a photo of himself and co-stars Vin Diesel and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, an inspirational video filmed from his Emirates Palace suite (the theme was “self-love is the cure for self-hate”), and another where he jokes about ordering around his personal butler.
On Saturday morning, Tyrese posted a photo of himself with his late co-star Paul Walker, taken early in the franchise. Another photo on Instagram shows Tyrese wearing a jersey sporting Walker’s name, with the caption: “I come here feel the energy of the ocean and all I think of is my brother ... Were gonna make you proud P-Dubber!!! #Fast7 #Dubai #AbuDhabiLifestyle.”
Vin Diesel has also joined his cast in honouring his former co-star, and on April 6 put up a video to his Facebook page featuring a trainer who was helping produce a key fight scene in the film.
“He was Paul Walker’s Jiu-Jitsu teacher, so I met him through my brother [Paul Walker], it made all the sense in the world to invite him into our world, so he could put his stamp of approval on it because he knows how important it is for this film to be the best film in honour of my brother Paul Walker,” says the actor.
Below is Universal’s latest message on Facebook:
The FAST & FURIOUS saga is about family. The characters are connected by the bond of family, and it is how all of us who have worked together for more than thirteen years feel about each other. It certainly defines how we feel about our fans.
Our family experienced an unthinkable shock in November. We had to take time to grieve Paul, the brother we love and lost, and to figure out if we should move on with our film.
We came together and all felt the only choice was to continue. We believe our fans want that, and we believe Paul would want that too. Paul had already shot his dramatic scenes and most of his action for FAST & FURIOUS 7, and it’s among the strongest work of his career.
We have resumed shooting and now welcome Paul’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, into our FAST family. Caleb and Cody are helping us complete some remaining action for their brother and fill in small gaps left in production. Having them on set has made us all feel that Paul is with us too.
We are just under a year away from the release of FAST & FURIOUS 7, and this film is the most important we’ve ever done together. It will allow the character of Brian O’Conner to live on and let us celebrate Paul in his most defining role.
We wanted to take a moment to speak to our fans directly and thank you for the love and support you always show us as we resume our work.
* With files from Jessica Hill and Saeed Saeed
Updated: April 16, 2014 04:00 AM