How Brian’s Bus Jumping Scene Was Shot (Did Paul Walker Do It?)
Furious 7 features a memorable scene wherein Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Connor runs up the side of a bus and jumps onto a car to avoid plummeting off a cliff—here’s how the scene was shot. The over-the-top action scene has led many to wonder how it was filmed, especially with Walker passing away partway through the film’s shooting. The Fast & Furious franchise has always been rooted in real stunt-work and practical effects, and the bus jump scene in particular is notable for being made with minimal computer enhancement.
The bus scene takes place as part of the sequence that sees Brian tracking down hacker Ramsey, played by Nathalie Emmanuel, on a bus winding through the mountains of Colorado. After Brian fights his way through Mose Jakande’s mercenaries, including a fighter played by martial arts star Tony Jaa, the bus plunges off a cliff, leading to him scrambling to survive. The scene instantly became one of the most famous Fast & Furious stunts and contributed to the overall positive fan response to the Furious 7.
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What viewers may not realize is that almost every part of the stunt on screen really happened. The sequence was shot by second unit director Spiro Razatos, a veteran stunt coordinator. The production crew used a wooden ramp to tip the bus over onto its side, and then dragged it to a real cliff. The crew used a rig to dangle the bus and Brian off a cliff. The bus was dropped off of a manageably small cliff, then later dropped off a larger cliff for the longer take used in the movie.
However, Paul Walker did not portray Brian during the stunt. Due to Walker’s tragic death, his character Brian O’Connor was retired in Furious 7, with the movie serving as an emotional farewell to an actor who had been part of the series since the beginning. However, the Colorado sequence was shot in September 2013, so it was Walker playing Brian in the surrounding scenes. While Walker did several lower-impact stunts and driving scenes in the Fast & Furious movies, for the high-risk jump a professional stuntman stepped in. A DVD special feature shows the actual stunt being carried out by Walker’s stunt double Phil Culotta. Culotta was hooked up to a rig with wires, but the bus was actually falling away beneath him during the scene, meaning that he had only one take to execute the acrobatic jump featured in the final movie. The only computer enhancement was editing Culotta’s safety cables out.
While the bus jump was one of the most memorable scenes in Furious 7 alongside the cargo plane drop stunt, it almost didn’t happen. According to Business Insider, Universal studio executives didn’t want to pay money to film the scene on-location in Colorado. Most of Furious 7 was filmed in Georgia, due to the state’s film production tax breaks, but Razatos and director Justin Lin feared that using CGI to change the location would look fake.
Ultimately, the studio relented and allowed the crew to shoot in the Rockies. The relocation and the hands-on stunts were one of the factors that made Furious 7 one of the most expensive movies ever made, with a $190 million budget, a stunt crew of 276 people, and over 320 cars used, 230 of which were destroyed. However, the expense ended up being worth it, as Furious 7 grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide and was beloved by fans, in part due to memorable stunts like the bus jump.
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