Fast and Furious star Paul Walker remembered by fans after fatal crash
Paul Walker and friend killed in fiery crash when sportscar collides with pole and tree after they attended charity event
Friends and fans have paid tribute to Paul Walker, the star of the Fast & Furious movie series who died in a car crash that killed one other person outside of Los Angeles. He was 40.
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 Saturday afternoon for his organisation 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 in the car were pronounced dead at the scene.
The Santa Clarita Valley 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. "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 & Furious films, and to countless fans."
His Fast & Furious co-star Vin Diesel posted a photo of him and Walker arm-in-arm on Instagram with the message: "Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless."
The son of a fashion model and a sewer contractor, Walker grew up in a working class, Mormon household in Glendale, California. 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 two.
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 1980s, 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.
Walker starred in other films, including the crime thriller Running Scared, the Antarctic adventure Eight Below and the heist film Takers. Though his stardom didn't make as much of an impact outside the Fast & Furious series, Walker continually drew praise from his co-stars and directors as a kind-hearted and eager collaborator.
"Your humble spirit was felt from the start," Ludacris, Walker's Fast & Furious co-star, said on Twitter. "Wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers."
Fast & Furious proved unusually enduring. Released in May, Fast & Furious 6 was the most lucrative of them all, grossing more than US$788 million worldwide. The seventh installment began shooting in September, with a release planned for July. The film's production was on break with more shooting to be done.
Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.