The Touching Way F9 Pays Tribute to Paul Walker: We Wanted to 'Honor Him Respectfully'

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Universal Studios Paul Walker

Warning: The following contains spoilers for F9.

More than seven years after his death, Paul Walker's Fast & Furious character Brian O'Conner is still very much "a part of the universe," according to F9 director Justin Lin.

The last time we saw Brian, he was driving into the sunset in Furious 7 - the 2015 film that Walker had been shooting at the time of his death in November 2013. Brian and wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) were not in the following installment, The Fate of the Furious.

But as Entertainment Tonight reports alongside an exclusive interview with Lin, 49, Brian makes a return in a small cameo at the end of F9, after Dom (Vin Diesel) points out an "empty chair" during a family dinner.

Mia tells her brother that her husband is "on the way" - before viewers are treated to a scene in which Brian's iconic blue GT-R speeds up the street and he parks in the driveway to, presumably, join the family meal.

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Universal/Getty Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in The Fast and the Furious (2001)

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Lin tells ET that Walker and his character are "so special I know to me personally and to all the fans around the world and it's something that we don't take lightly."

"I'm proud and I'm so happy that Brian O'Conner is still a part of the universe," he adds. "I talk to Vin all the time about how we can honor him respectfully."

Ludacris, who reprises his role of Tej Parker, says the team "continues to consult with" Walker's brothers, Cody and Caleb, as well as his daughter Meadow, on how to incorporate Brian into each subsequent film.

"They are the ones that are spearheading and signing off on all the ideas," adds the rapper and actor, 43, in his comments to ET. "So it's really about being close with his family."

Kevin Winter/Getty Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in March 2009

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Diesel, 53, has played Dom Toretto for the past 20 years - and recently said during an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show that he felt Walker "sent" John Cena to play his brother, Jakob Toretto.

"[Cena] comes into the shrine one morning, and I had this strange feeling ... that Paul Walker had sent him," Diesel said, adding that the moment was "very magical."

Last week, the actor also teased the possibility of Meadow, 22, appearing in the franchise at some point.

"I would not count anything out," Diesel told E! News' Daily Pop. "Without giving you all of the secrets of Fast 10 ... let's just say nothing's ruled out."

F9 is in theaters now.