During the summer of 2001, my friend Scott and I went to see “The Fast and the Furious.” A slick yet silly and unintentionally funny rip-off of, “Point Break”, we laughed like hyenas and had a ball. The film was chock-full of asinine, super-serious dialogue and out of control testosterone, yet it was clear that the filmmakers just wanted us to have a good time and give us our money’s worth. Not to mention, we also noticed the lead, Paul Walker.
He had good looks and possession of a certain kind of confidence, but certainly was in no danger of being compared to Robert De Nero in the acting department. We loved him anyway, and made it a tradition to see every subsequent “Fast and Furious” film on opening night together.
This weekend we were met with some sad news. Paul Walker, 40, died in a car accident on Saturday.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed on Saturday night that Walker was one of two people killed in the crash, which occurred at 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Santa Clarita, Calif. The other person killed, the driver, was Roger Rodas, an acquaintance of Walker’s and owner of a sports car dealership. Walker, who was on Thanksgiving vacation from filming the seventh “Fast and Furious” film, had been attending a charity even for “Reach Out Worldwide” earlier that day.
The major news sources didn’t report it right away, having been hoodwinked by a number of celebrity death hoaxes over the years. Word spread first in social media. The emotions mostly ran along the lines of disbelief and sadness, but most of all, so many people were convinced that this just had to be a hoax. Alas, it was not. A collective sigh of desolation erupted as Walker’s official twitter feed confirmed it.
Celebrities poured out their condolences. His “Fast and Furious” co-star Vin Diesel tweeted, “My heart is hurting so sad. Paul walker was a good man. RIP my friend…Sorry to the Walker family.” Richard Donner once said that he hired him for his film, “TimeLine” because, at age 73, he just wanted to work with people who were nice. Virtually every single note of condolence centered around the same thing; his rock solid character. Folks were so shocked that someone so kind in a business full of jerks had to be taken from them.
However, perhaps this has hit the public so hard not just because he was considered to be one of the good guys in the business, but because of its randomness. This was not a death that one could see coming, such as a celebrity known for addiction overdosing on drugs or alcohol. He was not known to lead a reckless lifestyle. There appeared to be no drugs or alcohol evident at the scene of the crash. According to the local Sheriffs who came upon the scene, speed was a factor. The car, a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, is known for being a difficult car to drive at high speeds even by professionals.
All true, but at the end of the day, Walker was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. It could happen to any of us. Truth is stranger than fiction. Random events happen for no reason. It’s difficult to accept in real life, impossible in fiction, yet here we are.
The seventh “Fast and Furious” film apparently will carry on without him, as all involved claim that is what Walker would have wanted. No doubt that is true. He is survived by his 15-year old daughter, Meadow.