Paul Walker: 1973-2013
I didn't want to believe it.
There have been rumors of actors dying which were eventually dismissed as hoaxes. So when I read an article late night on November 30th that Paul Walker was killed in a car crash that very day, I was hoping it was just another hoax and that a later article would report that Walker was alive and well, filming the next Fast and Furious movie and having just a good ol' time doing it.
But no. Three days have passed, and the news remains: Paul William Walker IV, born on September 12, 1973, is dead. The accident that claimed his life, and that of his friend Roger Rodas, occurred in Valencia, California while he was attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.
While some people may remember him from the 80's TV show Highway to Heaven (which I never watched), I didn't really take notice of him until the late 90's, when he starred in movies like Pleasantville and Varsity Blues. Later he would go on to make movies like The Skulls and Joy Ride (his best film, in my book), but his shot to stardom were the Fast and Furious movies, where he played Brian O'Conner, an undercover cop who was assigned to infiltrate a street racing gang and wound up joining their group.
Was Walker a good actor? That depends on what your definition of a "good actor" is. If you believe that one is measured by the amount of awards he won, then no, I guess he wasn't.
Of course, if that were the definition of a good actor, then the truth is that there are very few working in the business today. Personally, I believe that a good actor, or actress, is one who commits wholeheartedly to every character they play and generally leaves a lasting positive effect on the audience afterwards (even when they play the villain; just look at Alan Rickman from the original Die Hard movie).
In that regard, Walker was indeed a very good actor. He may not have won any Academy Awards, but there is no denying that the guy had charisma, and he knew how to command the screen. To top it off, there was this air about him that made him seem like the sort of guy you wanted to know. He seemed like a likable and level-headed dude, and according to the statements of those who knew him, he was that and more.
It's still hard to believe that he's gone. Audiences just saw him on the screen this year with Fast and Furious 6. Paul Walker left behind a loving girlfriend, a 15 year old daughter, and many fans. My thoughts and prayers go out to them all.
He will be missed.