Actor Paul Walker shot to fame in the late '90s, winning roles in films like 'Pleasantville,' 'She's All That' and 'Varsity Blues,' in which he often played boy-next-door support roles. Once he nabbed the part of FBI agent Brian O'Conner in the 'Fast and Furious' franchise, he thrived as the co-lead with Vin Diesel, thanks to their yin-yang bro chemistry. However, no matter what role or archetype the boyishly handsome and talented Walker played, he managed to make his time on the screen memorable.
As the news that the actor, 40, perished in a single-car, two-passenger wreck after a charity event in Los Angeles, filtered through the media (Nov. 30), it inspired us to look back at our favorite Walker roles.
At the time of his death, he was preparing for the release of 'Hours,' a thriller set during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and had worked on the seventh installment of the 'Fast and Furious' films.
Walker, who was the father of a teenage daughter, leaves behind a film legacy that includes the road trip thriller 'Joy Ride' (2001) and the lead role as Jessica Alba's boyfriend in the beachside thriller 'Into the Blue' (2005).
However, these are our favorites.
Dean Sampson'She's All That' (1999)
Walker's Dean Sampson and Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Zack Siler make a bet on whether or not Zack could transform an Average Jane into a Prom Queen. It's a teen comedy, with a richer, deeper meaning. Its success hinges on the believability of the lead characters, which was certainly the case with Prinze and Walker, even though the latter's character was not always likeable.
Lance Harbor'Varsity Blues' (1999)
As the QB and captain of the Coyotes, Walker's character embodied small town American dreams that don't quite reach their potential or fulfill their promise. An injury relegated him from scholarship-having, potential NFL'er to a coach later in life. Walker was able to capture the essence of coming of age and coming to grips with his portrayal.
Skip Martin'Pleasantville' (1998)
In the film, a modern brother and sister duo played by Tobey Maquire and Reese Witherspoon is transported to the idyllic world of the 1950s life. Walker plays Skip Martin, whose entire existence changes when he gets amorous with Withersoon's Mary Sue. Walker nails it as the handsome, if a little dim and 'Aw shucks'-like, boy-next-door, thanks to his wide-eyed wonder.
Jerry Shepard'Eight Below' (2006)
In this heartwarming tale of survival, thanks to man's best friend, Walker takes the lead role and carries the film, playing a guide at an Antarctic research base who embarks on a dangerous mission with the help of sled dogs. The dogs are left behind due to conditions. That is, until his Shepard decides to return and rescue them months later. Make sure to have Kleenex on hand for the reunion scene.
Brian O'Conner 'The Fast and the Furious' (2001); '2 Fast 2 Furious' (2003); 'Fast & Furious' (2009); 'Fast Five' (2011); and 'Fast & Furious 6' (2013)
We understand the irony of Walker's death in a car crash and the fact that his most famous character was that of an undercover FBI agent infiltrating the world of street racing. However, there's a reason that these films marked Walker's star turn. It was the intensity of the action and his character Brian O'Conner's adversarial bro chemistry with his onscreen foil, Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto, that made these films so compelling and successful. Walker's boyish charm played perfectly against Diesel's rough-around-the-edges, tough guy rasp. Bromances are popular in film and TV in this decade, but Walker and Diesel offered the blueprint and prototype.