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Paul Walker



Born: September 12, 1973; Died: November 30, 2013

Paul Walker, who has died in a car crash aged 40, was an actor and action movie star most famous for the Fast and the Furious movies, a popular but preposterous series of films that mixed fast cars and gangsters. He was working on the latest Fast And The Furious film at the time of his death.

He starred in all but one of the action blockbuster series, the sixth instalment of which was filmed in Glasgow, but was always cautious of taking them too seriously. He also starred in the suspense drama Hours, a film that is set for release this month.

He was born and brought up in Los Angeles in a working class Mormon family; his father was a sewer contractor and his mother was a fashion model. From the age of two, he was a child model, which led to small parts in advertisements.

After a number of television roles as a child in the 1980s, he made his feature film debut in the 1998 comedy Meet The Deedles. Supporting roles in the films Pleasantville, Varsity Blues and She's All That 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. The cop infiltrates the criminal gang but soon finds that he feels a kinship with those he is supposed to be exposing.

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 his co-star Vin Diesel momentarily dropping out. Walker, a self-described gearhead, kept his character's sports car from the film.

He then successfully rode the Fast and Furious franchise to fame, starring in all but one of the six action blockbusters.

Released in May, the sixth instalment in the franchise was the most lucrative of them all, grossing more than £480million worldwide. In all, the series has made £1.45bn around the world.

Walker was certain that the success of the films lay in their simple formula. "We don't want to take ourselves too seriously," he said. "It's a fine line there. We've got to remember what it is we're making: a Fast and the Furious. The second we become pretentious, we've killed it. People really connect with the whole family dynamic, the loyalty and the bonds. The simple themes. It's not the most complex thing in the world. People identify with it because it's not trying to be anything it's not."

Walker's other films included Flags of Our Fathers, a film made by Clint Eastwood about the battle for Iwo Jima during the Second World War.

At the time of his death, Walker had been on a break from shooting the seventh instalment of the Fast and the Furious films. Production began in September and while much of the film has been shot, it is incomplete. Universal Pictures has not said what it plans to do with the film, which is due for release in July.

Walker had also helped organise a fundraiser for victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. The event was held by Reach Out Worldwide, a charity he founded in 2010 to aid victims of natural disasters. He had recently been working on the Hurricane Katrina drama Hours, which is due for release on December 13.

He was also in Brick Mansions, a remake of the French action film District B13 that is planned for release next year. He is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.

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