This week, Hollywood lost actor Paul Walker, of Fast and Furious fame, in a tragic motor vehicle accident. Walker was the passenger in his Porsche Carrera GT (a 600+ HP beast of a car), driven by his close friend Roger Rodas, which crashed and burst into flames, creating a horrific scene not unlike those seen in the movies. Authorities have indicated that it is likely that speed played a factor in the incident. Autopsies reveal that Walker and Rodas died from trauma and thermal injury. Toxicology reports are pending.
While I will be the first person to admit that Paul Walker was not the most compelling, dynamic actor of our time, I grew to enjoy his work and look forward to his films. Despite his goofy gaze (tell me you didn’t laugh out loud at the way he lovingly looked at Tyrese sometimes) and at times stiff delivery of lines, Paul Walker was adored by his costars and amassed a cult following of fans, male and female alike.
I will always remember watching Varsity Blues and being captivated by Paul Walker’s swagger as he played the quarterback for the West Canaan Coyotes. With those dreamy blue eyes, mega watt smile and charisma, he practically oozed sex appeal in personifying that hot high school jock that all of the girls wanted and all of the nerds hated. Being the “hot guy” was not much of a stretch for Walker; he had been a model since toddlerhood, which ultimately led to his work in television and movies.
While his good looks are what earned him success in modeling and paved the way for his acting career, Paul Walker was more than a blonde “himbo” type – he had majored in marine biology, was extremely knowledgeable about cars and was prolific in his philanthropic work.
Paul Walker is primarily known for his role as Brian O’Conner in the Fast and Furious films, Universal Studios’ most lucrative franchise of all time. O’Conner was a multifaceted character whose knowledge from his work in law enforcement and auto mechanics informed his ability to later pull off illicit activities with his team of friends – no matter how outrageous the task.
With each passing installment, the storyline of the series has become more and more unbelievable and far-fetched, and yet Walker’s character has continued to be relatable and feel accessible to the audience, as we’ve packed theaters to watch each film. As a car enthusiast (I’m the owner of one of the baddest Ford Mustangs EVER – true story) I believe it was Paul Walker’s passion for exotic cars that truly brought authenticity to his work and made him memorable in fulfilling the role of Brian O’Conner.
As a car enthusiast, I can relate to the thrill of being behind the wheel of a bad ass car and just driving the shit out of it – feeling the responsiveness and kick of 400+ HP and pushing it to its limits; my heart rate rising with each depression of the clutch. I would be lying if I said I’ve never pretended I was Danica Patrick while speeding around an empty I-495 during the wee hours of a Sunday morning – like, Pinochhio lying. I get it.
That said, I have also had the misfortune of being in a parking lot brimming with testosterone, stupidity and a variety of import cars with cheesy modifications (yes, I’m pointing at your Honda Civic, bro) at the conclusion of several of the Fast and Furious films. I’ve sat back and watched some young people do some VERY stupid, reckless things on the road immediately after watching these movies.
I can imagine the glee Rodas and Walker must have felt when driving that Porsche Carrera GT, and the difficulty they may have had in harnessing its raw power out on the road. Sadly, I imagine that the cruise that ended in a horrible tragedy probably started as a joy ride.
Paul Walker’s tragic accident and untimely death should serve as a reminder to all of us that even in the hands of the most expert of drivers, automobiles are extremely powerful tools which must be respected and operated within the confines of the law, or there could be deadly consequences. There are plenty of controlled environments in which racing/drifting/whateverthefuckelse are not only permitted, but encouraged.
Let’s all agree not to make the roads our racetrack. For Paul.