Obituaries are never pleasant to write. It’s tough enough when you have to say goodbye to someone who has lived a good, full life and enjoyed a long career. But to write a story memorialising someone you were chatting to on a film set just over a month ago, and who was passionately talking about his work and his family, is that much harder. So it is with deep regret and shock that we must report that Fast & Furious veteran Paul Walker has died at the age of 40.
Walker died in a car crash while being driven home from a charity event for Reach Out Worldwide that he had attended in Los Angeles. The driver of the Porsche – a friend of the actor's, Roger Rodas – was also killed.
Walker, a native of Glendale, just north of Los Angeles in California, got his start early, appearing in a Pampers commercial when he was a toddler. He began a modelling career at two and moved to television in 1985, scoring roles on shows including Highway To Heaven and The Young And The Restless.
Cinema beckoned, with his first substantial job in Meet The Deedles, which he followed with supporting parts in such movies as Pleasantville, Varsity Blues, She’s All That and a bigger role in The Skulls. His big break – and the start of the franchise that has largely defined his career – came in 2001 with The Fast And The Furious, which saw him star for the first time as Brian O’Conner alongside Vin Diesel.
Between future Fast entries, he appeared in films including Joy Ride, Running Scared and Takers. Hurricane Katrina drama Hours was the next film scheduled to arrive, and he’d also worked on the District B13 remake Brick Mansions, where he’d expressed a desire to find more time to travel and spend time with his teenage daughter, Meadow.
He was in the middle of shooting Fast & Furious 7, and with a chunk of the film still to be completed, his death will leave a serious hole in the movie as well as the hearts of those who knew him.
“All of us at Universal are heartbroken,” the Fast studio said in a statement issued Saturday night. “Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast And Furious films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”
Diesel – a co-star of Walker's in five Fast & Furious films – said in a statement on Instagram: "Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace."
The Rock, who starred with Walker in Fast 5, Fast & Furious 6 and the currently-shooting Fast & Furious 7 tweeted, "All my strength, love and faith to the Walker family during this heartbreaking time. We find our strength... in his light. Love you brother."
Our thoughts are with Walker's family and friends at this tragic time.