"It's emotional now," he tells EW of Walker's death.

By Derek Lawrence
April 13, 2017 at 04:23 PM EDT

The Fate of the Furious marks the first film in the series without Paul Walker, who died during the production of Furious 7. For Tyrese, who entered the franchise as Walker’s co-lead in 2 Fast 2 Furious, the loss of his friend is still deeply felt.

“It’s emotional now,” the actor told EW in the video above. “When it comes to losing someone you love, we all get to a space where you’re still sad about it, but you’ve been able to come to terms with it. It’s still not something that any of us understand. Paul was the nicest guy in the world, I’ve never even heard his name go above a certain octave, and he’s not here.”

Walker died in November of 2013 during a break from filming the seventh installment of the series. His death put the future of Furious 7 and the mega-franchise in question. The decision was eventually made to proceed, using CGI and stand-ins to craft an emotional goodbye to the actor who had been with Fast & Furious since the beginning.

Despite Walker’s absence, Tyrese, who stars as wisecracking Roman Pearce, says the late actor served as inspiration throughout the making of Fate, with a few nods to his character, Brian, along the way.

Watch this week’s episode of EW: The Show, available now here, on the new PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

“We work really hard on behalf of Paul and his family, directly inspired by him and the legacy to make it as great as we could,” he said. “We have a couple of moments in the franchise that we’re talking and making mention of our brother. And I think we’re waking up every day, just trying to do the best we can.”

Fate of the Furious, which also stars Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, and Dwayne Johnson, races into theaters Friday.

Watch Tyrese talk about his craziest Fast scene yet and the one Roman line that fans always shout at him in the video at the top.

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