December 01, 2013 - 10:58 AM
LOS ANGELES - Paul Walker, the star of the Fast & Furious movie series, died Saturday in a car crash that killed one other person outside of Los Angeles. He was 40.
His publicist Ame Van Iden confirmed the actor’s death late Saturday afternoon. A statement on the actor’s Facebook page said he was a passenger in a friend’s car, and that Walker was in the area to attend a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that deputies found a car engulfed in flames when they responded to a report of a collision in the community of Valencia. Two people who were found in the car were pronounced dead at the scene.
The Santa Clarita Signal reported that a red Porsche crashed into a light pole and tree and burst into flames.
Walker rode the Fast & Furious franchise to stardom, starring in all but one of the six action blockbusters, beginning with the first film in 2001. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Los Angeles-native brought California surfer good-looks and an easy, warm charm to the popular street-racing series.
“All of us at Universal are heartbroken,” Universal Pictures said in a statement. “Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans.”
His Fast & Furious co-star Vin Diesel posted a photograph of him and Walker arm-in-arm on Instagram with the message: “Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless.”
Paul Walker in March 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Andre Penner
The son of a fashion model and a sewer contractor, Walker grew up in a working class, Mormon household in Glendale, Calif. The oldest of five siblings, Walker’s mother began taking him to auditions as a toddler. He was a child model beginning at the age of 2.
Walker has said the early induction to show business wasn’t to start him on a career path, but as a way to help provide for the family.
After a string of TV roles as a child in the `80s, including small roles on Who’s the Boss and Charles in Charge, Walker made his feature film debut in the 1998 comedy Meet the Deedles. Supporting roles in the films Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and Flags of Our Fathers followed.
His performance in the 2000 thriller The Skulls caught the eye of producer Neal H. Moritz, who cast him in The Fast and the Furious as undercover police officer Brian O’Conner. Adapted from a Vibe magazine article about underground street races, the film became an unexpected hit.
In the sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Walker moved to centre stage with Diesel temporarily dropping out. Walker, a self-described “gearhead,” kept his character’s sports car from the film.
Paul Walker (left), Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 6.
Image Credit: Universal Pictures
Walker stars in the upcoming Hurricane Katrina drama Hours which Lionsgate’s Pantelion Films is to release Dec. 13. He also stars in Brick Mansions, a remake of the French action film District B13 in post-production that Relativity plans to release next year. “Paul was an incredibly talent artist, devoted philanthropist and friend,” Relativity President Tucker Tooley said in a statement.
He formed Reach Out Worldwide in 2010 to aid people struck by natural disasters.
A friend of Walker’s who attended the fundraiser Saturday, Bill Townsend, told AP Radio, “He was very happy. He was smiling at everybody, just tickled that all these people came out to support this charity. He was doing what he loved. He was surrounded by friends, surrounded by cars.”
Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.
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News from © The Associated Press, 2013