AUSTIN - The filmmakers themselves called it a "last-minute" addition, but the secret screening of "Furious 7" at the South By Southwest film conference had enough heads-up for a couple of special guests -- and personal remarks.

Recurring "Fast & the Furious" franchise actor Tyrese Gibson, writer Chris Morgan, director James Wan and Neal H. Moritz were all on hand at the Paramount Theatre in Austin for the surprise midnight showing of the seventh film in the series. It marked the first time the flick had been screened to the public, and included some of the first comments about the late Paul Walker since the film had been finished.

"Alright you crazy motherf*ckers," Gibson smiled during his opening words to the packed crowd. "Most of you grew up with us... some of y'all had peach fuzz on your damn face when we started this sh*t.

"The reason that we kept this thing goin' [came] on behalf of our brother in Paul Walker," he continued. "Enjoy the f*cking movie, you beautiful people."

Walker, one of the stars of the action franchise alongside Vin Diesel, died on Nov. 30, 2013 in a car accident, during a time when "Furious 7" was still shooting. The "Furious" filmmakers managed to move forward with the film and finish with some rewriting and sometimes using Walkers' brothers as stand-ins to finish scenes.

"It's been months and months in the making. I literally just finished it last week," Wan told the audience.

"This movie is the highlight of my career, I am so proud of what we've done, and I know Paul Walker would be smiling down on all of us," Moritz said.

"Furious 7" heads to theaters on April 3.

After five years as a columnist and editor at Billboard, Katie Hasty joined HitFix in 2009 for music and film reporting out of New York. The Midwest native has worked as a writer, music promoter and in A&R since 1999 and performs with her band Numbers And Letters.