Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The Last Witch Hunter helped Vin Diesel in unexpected ways. While the fantasy flick is a passion project, it also helped the actor cope with the death of his longtime friend and Fast & Furious costar Paul Walker.

“Death was a huge theme last year,” Diesel told the Associated Press. “There was something therapeutic about playing this role after going through [Walker’s death].”

The Last Witch Hunter stars Diesel as an immortal witch hunter named Kaulder, cursed by the Witch Queen to roam Earth for eternity, never reuniting with his loved ones in the afterlife.

He continued, “The idea that someone immortal could be so melancholy. 2014 was a tough year for me in some ways — a lot of ways. Playing a character that was masking his sorrow — his loss — was very appropriate for the time, because that’s what I was doing in real life with the post-Furious 7.”

Diesel will return to continue the Fast & Furious franchise with Furious 8, with Straight Outta Compton’s F. Gary Gray set to direct. “[Walker] took a lot of pride in this franchise,” Diesel told the AP, “and he’d be smiling down at the idea of us actually doing what we talked about, which is going to the 10th chapter.”

The Last Witch Hunter opens Oct. 23.

The Last Witch Hunter

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 105 minutes
  • Breck Eisner