PAUL WALKER - The love He Left Behind

  • 08 Sep - 14 Sep, 2018
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Spotlight


On the morning of November 30, 2013, Paul Walker sat in his mother Cheryl’s L.A. kitchen with his daughter Meadow talking about holiday plans. The star of The Fast and the Furious series, who was on a break from filming the franchise’s seventh movie, decided he wanted to pick out a Christmas tree that evening and decorate it with his 15-year-old daughter. “We were having this good conversation, and he’d forgotten about an event he had,” says Cheryl. “He got a text and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m supposed to be somewhere!” As Paul rushed out the door to attend a charity car show for his organisation Reach Out Worldwide, Cheryl had no idea it would be the last time she’d see her son alive. Several hours later, when leaving the fundraiser, the 40-year-old actor decided to take a spin in a red Carrera GT Porsche driven by his friend Roger Roads. It crashed (lawsuits by the men’s families contested a sheriff’s report that the car was speeding) and exploded, killing them both. The accident left his fans reeling and his family and friends devastated. Now those closest to the easygoing yet deeply private actor are opening up about his life and legacy in a new documentary, I Am Paul Walker. Says Cheryl: “I think so many people think, ‘Oh, he was just a movie star who was killed in a car accident.’ But there was so much more to him. That was just a piece of who he was. He was an amazing man.”

A Surfer Turned Star

Born in the blue-collar L.A neighbourhood of Sunland Tujunga, Walker was raised by parents Paul Walker III, a contractor, and Cheryl, a nurse, in a tight knit Mormon family alongside brothers Caleb, 40, and Cody, 30, and sister Ashlie, 42. As a 4-year-old, he began acting in commercials before landing a role in the Michael Landon TV series Highway to Heaven. But after graduating high school, Walker took a break from acting to move to Huntington Beach and do what he loved most-surfing. But when bill collectors began calling, he returned to show business, landing roles in films like Pleasantville. A few years later he was cast as undercover cop in 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. The series, with its elaborate racing stunts, turned him into an action star. But to friends and family he remained the same down to earth guy especially to his brother Cody, to whom he was like a second father after their parents split up in 2004. “Paul stepped up in a big way for me and took me on trips all over the world and taught me what it was to be genuine,” says Cody. “He had a huge impact on my life. I miss him every day because he was just someone I could call at 2 a.m.”

Escaping the Spotlight

Despite his stardom, Walker was always a reluctant celebrity. “By biology he was a leading man. He was tall and incredibly good looking,” says Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen. “But a lot of Paul’s interpretation of the movie business was how much it allowed him to go surfing,” Caleb says. “He didn’t love the spotlight. He had so many other interests in this world that made him really happy.” Instead, Walker would retreat to his 350-acre property in Santa Barbara or vanish somewhere off the grid. “When Paul wasn’t making movies, he wasn’t in L.A.,” says his Running Scared director Wayne Kramer in the film. “He’d be in the Amazon or diving with sharks.” Walker, an avid car racer who had an eclectic car collection, was always seeking new adventures. His friend and Furious costar Tyrese Gibson recalls the time Paul tried to get him to go heli-boarding. “He’s like ‘Dude, the helicopter drops us off at the top of the mountain and we snowboard all the way down.’ I’m like, ‘Ain’t gonna happen, bro!,’” says Gibson. “But that was him. Adventurous, constantly surfing, fishing and snorkeling. He was a huge fan of the ocean.”

His father says, “Paul was a daredevil. But he had a strong belief in the hereafter. He’d go, ‘Whatever happens to me, I’ll be going to a good place.”

A Generous Heart

Walker’s parents say he always had an altruistic streak. “He was all about kindness and love.” Walker’s father remembers his son would give away Christmas presents to needier kids. “He used to say, ‘Just be nice.’ He couldn’t figure out why people would be nasty to people. It just wasn’t in his nature.” Later he did considerable charity work, mostly under the media radar. When a massive earth-quake hit Haiti in 2010, he organised a relief team and flew there to help. He than started his own organisation, Reach Out Worldwide, now run by Cody, which helps get resources to post-disaster situations. Says his father: “Paul just reeked of goodness.” Now almost five years after his loss, family members say they have their own special ways of keeping Paul’s memory alive. “I see him all the time; I just see his face. I’ll say to myself, ‘All right, what should I do, Paul?” says his father. For Paul’s birthday on Sept. 12 the family’s tradition is to go down to Huntington Beach and throw sunflowers in the ocean and tell their favourite memory of their beloved son and brothers. “He was just generous and giving and real,” says Cody. “He had life by the horns, but he never let any of it go to his head. Anyone that knew Paul would say Paul made them a better person.”

Source: People Magazine