Tyrese Gibson and various cast and crew members of Furious 7 paid tribute to the late actor Paul Walker at a surprise premiere screening of the movie. The seventh instalment of the massively successful Universal franchise was a late addition to the bill at SXSW festival.

Gibson (who plays Roman Pearce in the films) spoke during an introduction before the screening and said “We don’t look at y’all as fans of the movie. Most of you grew up with us. The reason we kept the movie going is on behalf of our brother Paul Walker.”

Tyrese Gibson
Tyrese Gibson led the tributes to Paul Walker at 'Furious 7's premiere

During the shooting of the seventh film in November 2013, Walker died after being involved in a car crash. Universal had to temporarily shut down production to figure out how it could proceed from that point, as Walker’s recurring role as Brian O’Conner in the series was a key part.

Eventually the story was reworked, and Walker’s brothers Cody and Caleb stepped in to complete his unfinished scenes.

More: Paul Walker’s father suing the estate of the driver in fatal crash for $1.8 million

According to the first report by Variety, the audience had been queueing for up to four hours before the midnight screening on Sunday, and broke into spontaneous applause at several points in the movie. The biggest cheer was reportedly for Walker’s first appearance in the film, about five minutes in for a school run scene with his character’s children.

The film’s producer Neal Moritz added to Gibson’s tribute by saying “I know Paul Walker would be smiling down on us. We lost a dear friend, brother and comrade when we were making this movie. When we decided to continue this movie, we were determined to honor his legacy.”

Paul Walker
Paul Walker, a key member of the 'Fast & Furious' films, died in November 2013

The movie ended with a touching tribute to the late actor, which left several audience members fighting back the tears. Initial reports from the audience were overwhelmingly positive, and director James Wan went on Twitter to say: “What an incredible and emotional experience. Paul would be proud.”

More: Universal Pictures plan to make “at least” three more ‘Fast & Furious’ movies