Paul Walker had the kind of blue eyes movies are made for. He had the aura of a living, breathing Ken doll coupled with the sly charm of Zack Morris, and this combination landed him a bunch of high school jock roles that ranged from doofy (see: Pleasantville) to douchey (see: She’s All That). He was the kind of actor made for a silly little schoolgirl crushes.
When the commercials for The Fast and the Furious started rolling out in 2001, my friends and I gushed about him during recess. Each calling dibs on who'd get to date him. Each arguing over who this harmless bad boy would take for a spin on his 10-second Supra. That is, when we weren’t plotting to pull a Lettie and drive one ourselves. The movie turned him into a shaggy-haired heartthrob that landed him gratuitous shirt-shedding movies like Into the Blue. I must’ve rewatched his episode of MTV Cribs (in which he shows off the only thing in his kitchen—pretzels—along with his jungle and his RV) a thousand times.
As Walker’s “hot guy” roles dwindled over the years, he became "The Fast and the Furious guy." Just how I moved on from my phase, Hollywood stopped treating him like the only boy toy in the world.
But that didn't mean anyone stopped watching him. The Fast and Furious has made $937,785,031 to date. He was the key part of something special, this untouchable franchise that’s amassed a loyal following not only with heart-pounding race sequences, but palpable, familial chemistry between the most diverse cast in Hollywood.
It’s difficult to ignore the gross cynicism of the world at a time like this. Walker died inside the same circumstance that you spend the entirety of Fast and Furious knowing he'll walk away from: a speeding car.
How the series will continue without its Brian O'Connor is difficult to fathom. Having starred in each installment besides Tokyo Drift, Walker was the series’ sole constant. The familiar face that, at least for me and the people I grew up with, made the movies comfort flicks. What comfort can they offer now, when this is the first image loyal fans will recall whenever they watch those movies: Walker smiling behind the wheel, his pretty blue eyes focused on the finish line?
GIF via ILoveMeSomeRocRoyal
Written by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)