A walk to re­mem­ber

Paul Walker was rock-solid guy in life and films.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - OBITUARY - By BETSy ShARKEy

Ac­tor Paul Walker’s death in a fiery car crash un­der a clear-blue cal­i­for­nia sky Satur­day con­tin­ues to feel so in­cred­i­bly sad and so sur­real. How can it not? the ac­tor, 40, spent much of his life on-screen be­hind the wheel of fast cars, walk­ing away from the worst pos­si­ble pile­ups in the The Fast And The Fu­ri­ous fran­chise. He was one of the cen­tral play­ers in the hugely pop­u­lar se­ries and a part of the cast from its 2001 begin­nings, when it cre­ated a world where there was no curve its driv­ers couldn’t nav­i­gate, no wreck they couldn’t sur­vive. cars stood for high-oc­tane es­cape, free­dom at 200 mph.

No one was pre­pared for a day like Satur­day. that Walker’s fi­nal mo­ments would carry such heart­break­ing irony; that the sort of im­ages that de­fined his life in film would also frame his death.

though the The Fast And The Fu­ri­ous an­chor is Vin Diesel play­ing Dominic toretto, a lo­cal Los An­ge­les tough with a heart of gold, a few of the core cast mem­bers be­came mi­nor con­stel­la­tions in their own right. Walker, as the un­der­cover cop who be­came Dom’s best friend and his most re­li­able part­ner in crime, was one.

Part of the films’ ap­peal was its blue-col­lar ethos and its love of all things Amer­i­can, ex­cept for a law here or there. the pull was pow­er­ful enough that even Walker’s cop Brian o’con­ner couldn’t re­sist. Dom’s crew of gear-heads, grease mon­keys, guys will­ing to get their hands dirty when duty called, soon won him over.

Walker’s char­ac­ter was our en­try point to this very real un­der­ground scene. the ac­tor helped us see the merit in these rene­gades, to be se­duced by the adren­a­line rush of the race. there was also Brian’s sweet re­la­tion­ship with Dom’s sis­ter Mia, played by Jor­dana Brew­ster. to­gether, the ac­tors em­bod­ied a clas­sic work­ing-class cou­ple, their courtship re­mark­ably in­no­cent in an out­law world.

that was Walker’s strength in front of the cam­era. the ac­tor was ever the rock-solid guy.

He cer­tainly looked the part with that strong jaw, slight scruff, clear blue eyes, golden smile. It is no sur­prise the ac­tor landed on Peo­ple magazine’s most beau­ti­ful list. Walker could ooze sex ap­peal. But far more of­ten, what you saw on-screen was an in­her­ent de­cency.

From all ac­counts, that was an ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion of the man, some­one who held friends and fam­ily close, who had enough fame and for­tune to abuse it, but never did. the heart­felt out­pour­ing of love and re­gret from fans and friends alike in the wake of his death speaks elo­quently to that.

Walker was born in Glen­dale, cal­i­for­nia in the United States and he never moved far from home. A cal­i­for­nia boy, he liked to surf and to drive fast cars. the car pas­sion played out on-screen, in sanc­tioned rac­ing cir­cuits and at char­ity events like the one he was at­tend­ing in the Santa clarita Val­ley on Satur­day.

that he would be­come an ac­tor was al­most a given. He be­gan spend­ing time in front of the cam­era as a tod­dler, di­a­per-clad in a Pam­pers ad for his first per­for­mance. At 13, he made his bigscreen de­but in 1986’s Monster in the Closet. the B-movie would in a sense set the course for his ca­reer.

the tV and film roles that fol­lowed were mostly mod­est ones, draw­ing more fans than crit­i­cal at­ten­tion. In some of the bet­ter movies, Walker took sec­ondary parts, over­shad­owed by big­ger stars of his gen­er­a­tion, such as tobey Maguire in 1998’s Pleas­antville and James Van Der Beek in 1999’s Var­sity Blues.

Un­til The Fast And The Fu­ri­ous – a box-of­fice jug­ger­naut with in­ter­na­tional ap­peal – changed his life for­ever. He was a spe­cial­ist in the main­stream, in a league with count­less ac­tors who show up year af­ter year, give us their best and don’t ask for much in re­turn. In­clud­ing awards on the shelf. Just to act is al­most re­ward enough.

the fran­chise has never claimed to be high art, but it is al­ways solidly en­ter­tain­ing. Its brash bravado is tem­pered by the fact that these bad boys are re­ally good guys. No. 6 in the se­ries, which came out in May, out­did all the rest.

In more re­cent times, the ac­tor had been tak­ing on other types of roles. In one of his last projects, Hours, which is due for re­lease in a cou­ple weeks, he plays a fa­ther des­per­ate to keep his baby daugh­ter safe in the face of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina.

there is no of­fi­cial word yet on the fate of Fast & Fu­ri­ous 7, which is still in pro­duc­tion. I would be sur­prised if they didn’t find a way to turn the film, at least in part, into a fi­nal trib­ute: to Walker and the mem­ory of a good man, a good fa­ther, a good friend and a good ac­tor – in that or­der – who sadly died too young. – Los An­ge­les times/Mcclatchy-tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Good to the core: Paul Walker was some­one who held friends and fam­ily close, who had enough fame and for­tune to abuse it, but never did.

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