While movie stars' rise and fall are the stuff of cinematic legends themselves, there are some that are just utterly unfortunate. Those actors and actresses who passed on too soon, never really reaching the pinnacle of their careers. And though they're now made to be icons of the screen, no matter how fruitful or lacking their contributions are to the industry, they still left an indelible mark on people's hearts. One of the most recent of them was Paul Walker.
By all accounts, Paul Walker was slated to be Hollywood’s next golden boy. The actor who’d follow in the footsteps of Cary Grant, Elvis Presley, Robert Redford, Leonardo DiCaprio, and so on. He had the looks, the talent, and the charisma to take Hollywood by storm, And so he did, for the most part of what was an interesting film career. He took his good looks and added charm to create a new sort of leading man that, while masculine, was more approachable and less domineering. He was heroic, yet there also wasn't an ounce of vanity in how he portrayed his roles.
Whenever you watched him on screen, you felt that it was just your big brother, or the neighbor's kid playing the part. He had a humble attitude to him that, even when surrounded by tough macho men, his brand of elegant heroism and modern gentlemanliness stood out and made audiences swoon. Why do you think that, with so many thuggish actors in Hollywood at the time, he was cast to lead the "Fast & Furious" franchise? We even have his autograph on their posters, which goes to show how welcoming an actor he truly was.
His first foray into film was a barrage of supporting roles, some with a few of the biggest names in young Hollywood. In "Varsity Blues," he starred alongside James Van Der Beek and Jon Voight. In "The Skulls," he went head-to-head with Joshua Jackson. And in the teen classic "She's All That," he played Freddie Prince Jr.'s douchey friend. In all three roles, he managed to make an impact, be it for his dramatic abilities or his comedic timing. Even at such a young age, he was already showing promise as a potential leading man.
And so in 2001, he was cast as Brian O'Conner in The Fast and The Furious, a role that will change his career in the long run. This was his first leading role ever, and at first try, he killed it. We even got his autograph on the movie poster because he was that good! Walker portrayed O'Conner as a slick, calm, and cool police officer who had to take on incredibly dangerous missions. He was tough and strong, but he was also collected, in it that he never let the dangers sideline him and his friends. And even against the alpha-type Vin Deisel, Walker stood his own.
In fact, Diesel and Walker became very close friends as a result of filming the movie. Similarly to their characters on screen, they eventually regarded each other as family. Walker even made Diesel her daughter's godfather. And when the actor died in 2013, Diesel paid his respects to his mom. In many ways, Walker emanated his 'golden boy' persona beyond the screen. Everyone he worked with, especially his "Fast & Furious" workmates, seemed to not only like him but developed utmost respect for him. And in an industry like the movies with so many egos, this was a feat in of itself.
Similarly to O'Conner, Walker was also a car enthusiast. He'd often race for pleasure and collected a covetable array of cars. Part of his now-legendary collection included an Audi S4 (B5), a Ferrari 400i, a Ford Mustang Cobra R, and a Rolls-Royce Ghost. Though he never fancied himself as a method actor, with this passion he showed that he truly understood his most memorable role. And by being a car collector himself, he was able to channel and contribute more to the cinematic legend that was Brian O'Conner. Not a lot of actors did this or know why this was important. For them, a role is just a job. But for Walker, he understood that O'Conner meant so much to so many.
Furthermore, he not only collected cars as a passion, but he also raced them for charity. This was what ultimately led him to his unfortunate death. But beyond that, charitable undertakings went even further. In 2010, he personally flew to Constitución, Chile to give aid and offer support for the victims of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country at the time. He also went to Haiti that same year, with his own humanitarian aid team called Reach Out Worldwide, to help the victims of the shocking earthquake. He was passionate about helping others and made it a point to his money and influence to give back as much as he can.
And so the golden boy, with a golden heart, that never was is now only present in the minds and hearts of his family, friends, and fans. It’s a shame the world never got to see just how far this talented actor and a special human being could have gone. But while his story may have ended, his legacy will surely live on.