Paul Walker (12 September 1973 – 30 November 2013)
I first encountered Walker in The Fast and the Furious (2001), but he’d been working solidly in film and TV since 1986 (his debut movie was Monster in the Closet). My first reaction was that he might get typecast as the “pretty boy” hero, and while subsequent Fast and Furious movies did little to dispel that idea, it was in some of his non-franchise work that you could see an actor able to give a lot more than might have been expected. The underrated The Death and Life of Bobby Z (2007) showed he had the kind of acting ability that would stand him in good stead as he grew older, while his supporting turn in Flags of Our Fathers (2006) proved that he could respond to and step up for a strong director (in this case, Clint Eastwood). Even in the testosterone-filled and entirely risible Takers (2010) he managed to stand out from a very impressive crowd.
Walker was a likeable actor, unfussy perhaps in his style and performances but always confident and rarely disappointing. It’s always difficult to envisage a young actor – I was surprised to learn he was recently forty, God did he have good genes! – when they’re older and what work they’ll be doing. But I think if Walker were still with us, he’d have matured into a fine character actor.
1 – Pleasantville (1998)
2 – She’s All That (1999)
3 – The Fast and the Furious (2001)
4 – Joy Ride (2001)
5 – Running Scared (2006)
6 – Eight Below (2006)
7 – The Death and Life of Bobby Z (2007)
8 – The Lazarus Project (2008)
9 – Fast Five (2011)
10 – Hours (2013)