Reports have arrived from multiple sources - and are now being confirmed by Paul Walker's Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as his personal publicist - that the 40-year-old star of the Fast and Furious franchise has died on Saturday, November 30th in a car crash. Walker, who was the passenger in a car driven by an as-yet-unnamed friend, is survived by his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow Rain.
Walker made his feature film debut in the cult classic horror-comedy Monster in the Closet, as a 13-year-old "Professor." He remained active in television until the late 1990s, when a string of memorable supporting roles in the hit films Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and She's All That made him a recognizable movie star.
Leading roles soon followed in Rob Cohen's college conspiracy thriller The Skulls and John Dahl's road trip horror movie Joy Ride, but it was his leading performance in 2001's The Fast and the Furious opposite action star Vin Diesel that would become his cinematic calling card, despite a career that would continue in surprise box office successes (Eight Below, Takers), serious dramatic features (Flags of Our Fathers, Running Scared) and - as can be said for most actors - a handful of box office bombs (Timeline, The Death and Life of Bobby Z).
Paul Walker went on to appear in all but one of the six Fast and Furious movies (2006's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift being a spin-off of the original series), and was currently in production on Fast and Furious 7 when he passed away earlier today. The fate of Fast and Furious 7 is currently unknown, as is the future of Walker's other upcoming feature projects, which include Brick Mansions (an American remake of the hit French parkour adventure District B13) and an upcoming reboot of the Hitman franchise in which Paul Walker was set to star.
Paul Walker was a charismatic leading man, and a member of one of the most beloved ensemble casts in action movie history. His fatal collision occurred while he was out supporting Reach Out Worldwide, a charity organization that was trying to raise funds for relief in The Philippines. While we did not know him personally, he seemed like a fine person who was using his celebrity to make the world a better place. What more could we ask of a movie star?
Paul Walker most certainly will be missed, and our hearts certainly go out to his friends and loved ones. Although it may be small consolation, we will always have his films to remember him by. Here are a handful of our favorites.
Varsity Blues (1999)
Brian Robbins' unusually clever, emotional teen football drama Varsity Blues was ostensibly a starring vehicle for "Dawson's Creek" heartthrob James Van Der Beek, but it was the charismatic Paul Walker - playing an All-American quarterback who suffers a debilitating injury, then makes the most of his situation - who used the film to catapult himself to movie stardom.
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel both cemented their movie star status with Rob Cohen's lucrative street racing actioner, starring Diesel as an enigmatic high-speed thief and Walker as the undercover cop who is supposed to take Diesel down. Things get complicated when Diesel makes Walker feel like part of the family. The sequels got bigger and crazier, but the original is still a pleasingly pulpy b-movie.
Joy Ride (2001)
Paul Walker starred opposite Steve Zahn and Leelee Sobieski as a teen love triangle on the run from a homicidal trucker, voiced by Walker's The Fast and the Furious co-star Ted Levine. John Dahl's thriller is basically a teen-oriented remake of Steven Spielberg's Duel, but it wasn't a bad one, thanks partially to a clever script co-written by future Star Trek director J.J. Abrams.
Into the Blue (2005)
Paul Walker and Jessica Alba play deep sea treasure hunters who run afoul of a dangerous criminal played by Josh Brolin, and although director John Stockwell treats most of this riff on 1977's The Deep as an excuse to show off his scantily clad co-stars, Into the Blue's shockingly violent climax gives the film an unexpected and impressive conclusion.
Running Scared (2006)
Paul Walker's most off-kilter motion picture - and some might argue his best - stars Walker as a low-level crook assigned to dispose of his boss's murder weapons. When a young neighborhood kid steals one of the guns and runs away, Running Scared descends into a hallucinatory, disturbing, yet utterly exhilarating descent into hell. Walker has to get the gun back before his boss kills him, and before his ultraviolent community does even worse to the child.
Fast Five (2011)
The fifth film in the Fast and the Furious franchise officially transformed the series into a slick ensemble piece, packed with impressive stunts, thrilling heists and brutal fistfights galore. Paul Walker was no longer on the center stage, but he remained a key part in the dynamic of a film that's bound to go down as one of the best and most entertaining blockbusters of its time.