posted December 01, 2013 04:00 PM
Paul Walker: The Celebrity Next Door
By Taryn Ryder
Less than 24 hours since it was confirmed the star of "The Fast & Furious" franchise was killed at the age of 40 in an automobile accident, friends, acquaintances, and fans are all sharing memories of Walker and grieving together.
Those who knew Paul paint a similar picture of the late actor: A down-to-earth star who didn't care about fameÖ A guy's guy who loved to race cars in his free timeÖ A doting fatherÖ A charitable celebrity.
In the wake of such a tragedy, those close to Walker want fans to know the actor many looked up to was just as great of a guy off-screen.
"He treated everyone with such respect," one crew member who worked on various "Fast & Furious" films with Paul tells omg!. "From the crew to his co-stars to extras on set, Paul was such a genuine person. He had a great spirit, soul, and had a quality about him that was rare to find anywhere, let alone in Hollywood."
Notes a studio executive at Universal Pictures who worked closely with Walker: "He truly was one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever known. He was always so polite and professional. We are heartbroken."
Paul is survived by his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow. The teen lived with her mom in Hawaii for most of her life, but moved to California earlier this year to reside with the actor, which he was elated about. In a recent interview, Walker called the girl "the best partner I've ever had" and said there was a shift in his priorities. "There's a part of me who feels like I'm making up for lost time," he admitted.
"He had such a passion for life and loved his family and friends dearly," recalls a close friend of the late actor. "He was always thinking of others."
Director Wayne Kramer, who worked with Paul on "Running Scared," summed up similar sentiments in a Facebook post on Sunday honoring the actor.
"Paul was always the great unifier on set," he wrote. "He went out of his way to accommodate both actors and crew members. Iíve also never seen him refuse an autograph to anyone."
"My job doesnít define me. It's not who I am, it's what I do from time to time," Paul said in October 2011 when discussing fame. "And as bizarre as that world may be, it's only as bizarre as you allow it. If you have a perspective of what it really is, it's a job ó it's a great job, and sometimes there are killer opportunities within that realm."
One of those opportunities was starting Reach Out Worldwide.
Prior to Saturday's crash, Paul was taking part in a charity event just outside of Los Angeles for his organization to raise money for the Philippines typhoon relief effort. This was hardly the first time Walker was quick to lend a helping hand.
In 2010, he flew to Chile with Reach Out Worldwide to offer assistance to those injured in the 8.8 magnitude earthquake, and Paul was actively involved in relief efforts to help survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Many of Paul's close friends and co-stars have taken to social media to address their loss.
"Your humble spirit was felt from the start, wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers & our birthdays are only 1 day apart, now You will forever hold a place in all of our hearts @paulwalker legacy will live on forever. R.I.P," Ludacris shared.
"I am so beyond heartbroken right now. I can't process anything," James Wan, director of "Fast & Furious 7," which is currently filming, tweeted.
"All my strength, love & faith to the Walker family during this heartbreaking time. We find our strength.. in his light. Love you brother," Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who stars in "Fast & Furious 7," tweeted on Saturday night.
Vin Diesel shared a photo of Walker on Instagram with the following message: "Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace."