Paul Walker should be remembered for more than just living and dying fastly and furiously.
I mean, this is a guy who was an actor since before he could speak, having starred in a Pampers commercial back in the 70’s. This was a guy who hustled during the 80’s doing the Who’s The Boss, The Young and the Restless, and Touched by an Angel circuit.
This was a guy that was really launched into stardom back in the late 90′s.
He was the one who didn’t know how to “pin” a girl in Pleasantville. He was the one who convinced Freddie Prinze Jr. to make that stupid bet (that one he made before he really knew Rachel Leigh Cook, before he really knew himself…) in She’s All That. HE was the one that, along with a Dawson’s-Creek-in-its-prime Joshua Jackson, nearly impregnated an entire generation of teenage girls through the power of cinemaculate conception in The Skulls.
And most importantly, HE was the player coach who decided to unleash the 5-WR offense in the second half of the district championship that helped the West Canaan Coyotes eventually win the game in the seminal high-school football film Varsity Blues.
However, even though his work resume is astonishing, it’s his life off-screen that should be most remembered by us.
The California born-and-bred Walker lived in Santa Barbara with his dogs, cultivating a life of healthy balance. When he wasn’t sharpening his body and mind with daily Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, he was enriching his soul by assisting in disaster relief with his humanitarian aid team, Reach Out Worldwide, which included him flying to places like Chile and a post-earthquake Haiti. He had also already made plans to go help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Yes, Paul was an adventurous, charitable man. He may have had a bit of a wild streak, but he was someone who always did what he believed was the right thing to do. It didn’t matter if it was the tough choice or the unpopular choice. If he felt it was what should be done, he would go ahead and do it.
And yes one time that meant letting a known felon evade the police for a chance at a better life.
But it was because Paul believed that people can change. He had spent hours having personal conversations with this man, learning the tragic circumstances behind a crime that most juries would at the very least sympathize with, if not forgive entirely. He understood the humanity in all humans.
And yes he did admit to taking a little something off the top when it came to the accounting aspects of one of his ventures, but can you blame him? It’s a tough economy, even for celebrities, and we all a little hungry, right?
And I know that many people bring up the incident of Walker busting that same known felon out of jail by attacking a police convoy, but isn’t there something courageous about risking life and limb to free and protect a soul that you have seen true, fraternal love in?
And do you remember that time when he and that same felon then ripped a whole vault through the wall of that bank and dragged it behind their two cars while the police were chasing them and it was all like “whooaaaa” and the machine guns were all like “buh-buh-buh-buh-buh” and then they did the same kind of thing later when they pinned that plane trying to take off to the ground while The Rock was all “Rock Bottom!” to that one guy then the felon DROVE THE CAR THROUGH THE NOSE OF THE EXPLODING PLANE?!
That was, like Walker both on and off screen, awesome.
Recounting just how quickly and ferociously Walker took on life, all I can think of is this epic moment in karaoke history featuring Vin Diesel that was fortunately caught on film: “Makes me feel like I can’t live without you…”
Originally published in The Daily Banter on 12/2/13