Paul William Walker IV, who inherited the name from his father, was an American actor and philanthropist. He played roles in different television shows such as 'Touched by an Angel' and 'The Young and the Restless' and famous films 'Into the Blue' and 'Fast and Furious'. He was also the face of The Coty Prestige fragrance brand and founded the Reach Out Worldwide organization. He participated in other charity work mainly concentrating on providing relief to those affected by natural disasters. He met his untimely death in a car accident alongside Roger Rodas who was driving. He died at the height of his career in the middle of shooting his last movie, 'Furious 7'.
Paul Walker, the first of five children, was born to Cheryl, a fashion model and Paul William Walker III, who was a sewer contractor and a fighter. He had German, Swiss, English and Irish ancestry and his paternal grandfather had a career in boxing. One of his grandfathers also raced cars for Ford in the ’60s. He grew up in Sunland Community, Los Angeles and graduated from Village Christian School in San Fernando Valley in 1991. He attended several community colleges after graduating high school and majored in marine biology. Walker was also raised as a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Paul started out his career with a television commercial for Pampers. By the age of two years he had already started modeling and landed his first television roles in 1985 in Who’s the Boss, Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel. He also featured in a commercial for Showbiz Pizza.
Walker began his film career in Monster in the Closet, a 1986 horror/comedy film. The next year, he also appeared in The Retaliator, a low budget cyborg film. He then landed a role in the Young and the Restless where he took on the part of Brandon Collins. This role earned him a nomination in the Youth Films Award alongside his co-star Heather Tom, who played the role of Victoria Newman. They were nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a soap opera.
In 1998, Walker made his feature film debut which earned him recognition all over the world. He took on a role in comedy Meet the Deedles. This fame led to his supporting roles in Pleasantville (1998) and Varsity Blues (1999), She’s All That (1999) and The Skulls (2000). This preceded his major break in 2001 when he starred alongside Vin Diesel in The Fast and The Furious, the first film in the franchise. The role earned him a position as one of the most popular movie stars. He then starred in Joy Ride (2001) and Timeline (2003) after which he starred in the sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious in the same year.
In 2005, Walker starred in Into the Blue while in 2006 he starred in both thriller movie Running Scared and Eight Below by Walt Disney Pictures. Eight Below grossed over $20 million during its first weekend and received critical acclaim. As for Running Scared, director Wayne Kramer stated how much he enjoyed working with Walker because he was game for anything and supported his vision of what he wanted the film to be. Walker went on to star in other films, including the sequels to The Fast and the Furious, Takers and an independent film titled The Lazarus Project among others.
In 2013, Furious 7 was in the process of shooting, preparing for the release in 2014. Paul Walker died before they could finish filming and there was speculation as to what would happen to the film. The parties involved in the film decided to talk to the family of the late actor to determine what they would do with the film considering that they had not finished shooting the film. They ended up using his brothers Cody and Caleb as his body doubles in order to finish shooting the film. The plot of the movie had set up the story about Walker’s character, for him to become a family man and stop racing. He had a wife and child and was about to do the last job or project after a long hiatus from that kind of life. He had gotten accustomed to living with the wife and child away from that kind of life although he missed it. It was therefore decided to use the storyline to bid farewell to Paul Walker after his death towards the end of 2013. Wiz Khalifa wrote a song, ‘See You Again’ featuring Charlie Puth as a tribute to Walker. The song was included in the last scene of the Furious 7 movie, which was an emotional send off for Walker who rode into the sunset. The cast of the Fast and Furious sequel and the fans were able to say goodbye to Walker both on and off screen.
Paul Walker was a philanthropist and a devoted humanitarian. He founded Reach Out Worldwide Organization in 2010 after the devastation from the earthquake in Haiti. The organization provides relief to areas that have been adversely affected by natural calamities. After his untimely death, the official Paul Walker website was turned into the ROWW organization’s site. Instead of flowers and donations following his death, the Walker family asked that people make donations to the charity. On the day of his death, he had come from hosting a benefit for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Other charity work that Paul Walker engaged in includes: The Chilean earthquake relief, Friends of Sharks – an expedition that Walker partnered with National Geographic Channel in 2009, Haiti Earthquake relief, Oklahoma Tornado and rallying for Dalton Andrews, a terminally ill young man whose bucket list contained attaining one thousand plus likes. Paul Walker did more than just talk. He got down into the heart of the situation and got his hands dirty until he made a difference. He was a hero to many.
Walker was a public figure and a celebrity, but still seemed ‘normal’. He wasn’t flamboyant and was not involved in scandals as other celebrities are. He lived under the public watch, but was so authentic that he didn’t garner him any bad publicity.
In 1998, Paul Walker and his one-time girlfriend, Rebecca Soteros had a baby and named her Meadow Rain Walker. The two later separated and Meadow lived with her mother in Hawaii while Walker had homes in Huntington Beach and Santa Barbara where Meadow would visit. In 2011, Meadow moved to live with her father and her godfather was Vin Diesel.
Walker was more than just cast members with the cast of the Fast and the Furious. He was close friends with Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson. They considered each other as brothers and fondly referred to him as ‘Pablo’. Walker’s mother even termed Walker as Diesel’s other half.
Paul Walker appeared in 2000’s April issue of Vanity Fair, smiling broadly and not trying to look sexy as the other featured people tried to. The Dallas Morning News even commented that he was a rare breed: a pretentious-free actor which was a rare thing in Hollywood. Although he was a movie star, he took breaks to travel which is something he admittedly loved to do. He travelled to Fiji, Sarawak, Borneo, Costa Rica and other parts of Asia. He also picked an interest in martial arts due to his many fighting scenes. He studied Taekwondo, Eskrima, Jujitsu and Jeet Kune Do in their various forms as a way of nurturing this passion. At the time of his death, he was a brown belt and was awarded a black belt posthumous.
People wonder if Walker had two different sides to him and there have been speculations about his true character. He would often act as a bad guy, only for it to be revealed later that he was actually the good guy in the movie. In real life, off the screen, he was handsome and likeable, winning the hearts of many in the roles he took up on different films and also in his carefree living as well. His death dealt a big blow to his family, friends and fans, especially because he had become the relatable character in the Fast and the Furious series that involves racing cars and dangerous stunts. That he died in a Porsche car accident made it even more ironic and sad. People started asking questions whether he had lived a fast life in his real life as well. People wondered if he had two sides to him and just how much his characters in movies seeped into his real life and vice versa.
He faced felony charges when he was eighteen years old for an undisclosed act. He had spoken of how he used to be wilder but had to tone it down after starring in the Fast and Furious films. To this day, the public does not know what felony charges had been brought up against him and how he got out of it. Walker also stated that he had a bit of a criminal mind in an interview about the movie Takers. Such admissions left people wondering if indeed he did have a penchant or a potential to engage in crime outside of his roles in films. Further, during his last year, in an interview he said that he had reached a point where he felt that life was too short and that he wanted the celebrity status to all go away. Some people interpreted this as though Walker had a death wish. To top it all off, he almost died in 2008 when he ran into the back of a car at about 50 miles an hour while on his motorcycle.
Walker also acknowledged that he was a walking contradiction. While he was an animal rights activist, he still went hunting once in a while, which is quite ironic. He was also an advocate of taking care and conserving the environment, but he would still be racing cars over the weekend. He gave up hunting in the months leading up to his death and had instead taken up photography with a particular liking to birds. He loved taking photos of birds at a high speed with a camera as opposed to hunting. Many people did not know how to take both sides of him without being biased to either. Whatever the case, he was a likeable person who most people, especially his fans, loved. While there were contradictions about him, he came off as a relatable guy who took life as it was.
Walker died in a car crash where Roger Rodas crashed into a lamp post and two other trees. He had been his financial adviser for a while. The post-mortem revealed Walker had died before the car burst into flames. The spot of the crash is popular for drag racing and it was later believed that Rodas might have been drag racing, although there was no evidence of another car. Meadow filed a suit against Porsche claiming that the car had design defects and that replacement of seat belts could cause grievous harms in accidents. Porsche claimed that the actor knew of the risks and perils before choosing to ride in the car. A court ruled in favor of Porsche in a suit filed against the manufacturer by the late actor’s mother, but this ruling does not bear any relation to the other suits filed against the manufacturer by Meadow and the actor’s father. Walker’s father also filed a suit against the Rodas estate.
- The Amazing Life of Paul Walker by Matt Green