Paul Walker, best known for his role as Brian O'Conner in the Fast and Furious film series, died yesterday in a car crash. A later report that Walker's death was yet another internet hoax turned out to be fake, as both his official Facebook page and verified Twitter account have now confirmed his death at the age of 40.
It’s with a heavy heart that we must confirm Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident…MORE: http://on.fb.me/1bzn8gD – #TeamPW
From Facebook: "It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. – #TeamPW"
Walker's publicist Ame van Iden confirmed his death, but said she could not elaborate beyond statements posted on Walker's official Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Walker was a passenger in a friend's 2005 Porsche Carrera GT and both were attending a charity event for his organization, Reach Out Worldwide, in the community of Valencia in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles north of Hollywood. The website for the charity said the Saturday event was intended to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Speed was a factor in the crash, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office said. The wreck took place about 3:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET), about 300 yards from the office park where the event was held. The speed limit there is 45 mph.
Deputies arrived at the scene to find a vehicle on fire, the sheriff's department said in a statement.
Once fire crews put the flames out, they found two occupants, both of whom were pronounced dead at the scene. Saturday evening, all that remained was the burnt mangled metal of the red car and a light pole that had been knocked down.
Walker was, of course, best known for his role in the "Fast and Furious" franchise, appearing in five of the six films released so far. Though some insensitive neanderthals are already focused on how Walker's death will affect the seventh installment, which is due out next year and was already filming, I would like to skip such insensitive foolishness and focus on how Walker's death should serve as a wake-up call to us all.
First, this should not only cause us to cherish every day, but to also be more positive. Don't all the child-like comments disparaging the "Fast and Furious" franchise look petty now? It's an enjoyable franchise that has seen its last two installments - when most franchises have long run out of gas - surpass 70% on Rotten Tomatoes and $200 million at the domestic box-office.
This was due in large part to Walker, who appeared in all the instalments except the third. Vin Diesel and Walker were the two linchpins of the franchise. But there may not have been a franchise for Vin Diesel and the other stars that would come later to return to if Walker hadn't carried 2 Fast 2 Furious. It should be noted that the franchise was reinvigorated by the return of Diesel and Walker in the fourth film, setting the franchise up to rocket to new heights with the fifth and six films.
To those who scoff at the Fast and Furious franchise, who can't wait to replace Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Damiel Craig as James Bond almost as soon as they start getting comfortable in iconic roles; who laugh at the idea of another Rambo movie with Sylvester Stallone and so on, let this be a reminder that all these actors, like all of us, are on this mudball for a really short, limited time. Being part of a truly popular, iconic franchise is a rare thing. So let's enjoy them while we can.
Also, it seems many on the internet like to tear apart celebrities for sport. It is worth remembering that most are very decent people who donate their time and money to all kinds of philanthropic endeavors. The thing that makes Walker's death even more tragic is that he was leaving not a popular nightclub or strip club or award show party, but an event held by an organization he founded, with the event's proceeds targeted at victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
In the end, Walker's death should drive home just how fragile life itself is. How fleeting. Maybe that will remind us to stop obsessing over things that are trivial and really don't matter. Just for a little while.