Sunday, December 01, 2013

Paul Walker, RIP

The news of this broke yesterday across social media via TMZ, and I guess it's a testament to the age we live in, where Internet "death hoaxes" propagate so easily, that folks were chasing around trying to find something, anything, that said this too was just a terrible, terrible mistake. Sadly, such was not the case, and confirmations soon began to roll in via his publicists that Paul Walker, the 40-year old star of Universal's long-running Fast & Furious franchise, perished yesterday after an automobile accident outside of LA while riding as a passenger in a friend's car.

While I doubt anyone would confuse Walker with Laurence Olivier, as the actor got older he did grow into his own, finding a comfortable niche for himself while also seeking out new ways of pushing the limits of that niche. More than that, he was known not only for the relatively modest life he lived (considering the global stardom he enjoyed), but also the philanthropic causes he supported (he died leaving an event for Reach Out Worldwide, a charitable organization he founded in 2010).

Walker first came to prominence in the late '90s via films like She's All That, Varsity Blues, and The Skulls. When The Fast & The Furious hit in '01, I doubt he had any inkling that the role of undercover cop Brian O'Connor would come to define the rest of his life. Of five Fast sequels over the next twelve years, he'd skip only one. In fact, he was filming the seventh entry at the time of his death. and told Collider just a few weeks ago, "...the studio supposedly wants 8, 9 and 10. I’ll be 50. Even if 7 were to [tank], there’s at least an 8. That’s a guarantee."

While the series will no doubt carry on, it'll have lost something ineffable. As I said last summer in my review of Fast 6, the relationship between Walker and series co-lead Vin Diesel, "feels like one that the audience has watched evolve and grow in real time." That's a relationship we desperately would have have liked to see continue to evolve and grow, but sometimes real life has its own plans despite our best hopes. As the late actor said earlier in that same interview, "I think I’ve had enough successes to where the journey is more important to me now. There’s no guarantee, no matter what. We get one run in life."

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