Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Review: 'Deadpool' Starring Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, And Gina Carano Review: 'Deadpool' Starring Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, And Gina Carano How Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez Made Josh Brolin's 'No Country For Old Men' Audition Tape How Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez Made Josh Brolin's 'No Country For Old Men' Audition Tape 'MacGyver' Movie Reboot And New TV Series Pilot On The Way 'MacGyver' Movie Reboot And New TV Series Pilot On The Way Josh Brolin Says He's Starring With Jessica Chastain In A Movie About George Jones & Tammy Wynette Josh Brolin Says He's Starring With Jessica Chastain In A Movie About George Jones & Tammy Wynette Watch: Robert Richardson Explains Why He Took His Name Off 'World War Z' And More In 58-Minute Cinematographer Talk Watch: Robert Richardson Explains Why He Took His Name Off 'World War Z' And More In 58-Minute Cinematographer Talk George Miller Says He Originally Wanted The Music In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' To Only Come From The Doof Warrior George Miller Says He Originally Wanted The Music In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' To Only Come From The Doof Warrior Stephen King Says Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "Like A Big, Beautiful Cadillac With No Engine Inside It" Stephen King Says Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "Like A Big, Beautiful Cadillac With No Engine Inside It" Review: Coen Brothers' 'Hail, Caesar!' Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, And More Review: Coen Brothers' 'Hail, Caesar!' Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, And More Naomi Watts Confirmed For David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’ Revival; Tom Sizemore Joins Cast Naomi Watts Confirmed For David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’ Revival; Tom Sizemore Joins Cast Watch: Quentin Tarantino Talks 5 Movies To Watch Before 'The Hateful Eight' In 7-Minute Video Watch: Quentin Tarantino Talks 5 Movies To Watch Before 'The Hateful Eight' In 7-Minute Video SAG Award Winners: ‘Spotlight’ Wins Best Ensemble, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba & Brie Larson Also Score Big SAG Award Winners: ‘Spotlight’ Wins Best Ensemble, Leonardo DiCaprio, Idris Elba & Brie Larson Also Score Big The 25 Most Anticipated New TV Shows Of 2016 The 25 Most Anticipated New TV Shows Of 2016 The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 The 20 Best Films Of 2015 The 20 Best Films Of 2015 The 25 Best Action Movies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Action Movies Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Terry Gilliam Talks The "Simplistic" Films Of Steven Spielberg, Dumbing Down Of Audiences, 'Don Quixote' Start Date & More Terry Gilliam Talks The "Simplistic" Films Of Steven Spielberg, Dumbing Down Of Audiences, 'Don Quixote' Start Date & More

Remembering Paul Walker: 5 Of His Best Performances

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist December 2, 2013 at 2:06PM

Over the weekend actor Paul Walker, best known for his role in Universal's ongoing "Fast and Furious" franchise, died tragically in a car accident in California. The actor was in the midst of filming the seventh film in the series, with every intention of continuing. As Bilge Ebiri pointed out over at Vulture, the series was originally designed as a vehicle for Walker, based on the actor's experience working with original director Rob Cohen on the marginal collegiate thriller "The Skulls." Even after his death it's easy to be glib about his skills as an actor, but Walker turned in a handful of memorable performances both within and outside of the 'Fast' franchise.
10
Running Scared Paul Walker

Over the weekend actor Paul Walker, best known for his role in Universal's ongoing "Fast and Furious" franchise, died tragically in a car accident in California. The actor was in the midst of filming the seventh film in the series, with every intention of continuing. As Bilge Ebiri pointed out over at Vulture, the series was originally designed as a vehicle for Walker, based on the actor's experience working with original director Rob Cohen on the marginal collegiate thriller "The Skulls." Even after his death it's easy to be glib about his skills as an actor, but Walker turned in a handful of memorable performances both within and outside of the 'Fast' franchise.

Walker was handsome. This is an undeniable fact, as much as water is wet and the sky is blue. But he was more than that too, capable of nuance and shading in roles that usually required neither. And he left behind a small bounty of performances and films that are easily re-watchable and highly volatile. It seems like Hollywood never quite knew what to make of Paul Walker, and Paul Walker didn't quite know what to make of Hollywood, and out of this, somehow, one of the biggest franchises in recent memory was formed.

But we wanted to take the opportunity to look back at five of Walker's very best performances, films that we (and many others) will be revisiting following his tragic demise. 

Pleasantville Paul Walker

"Pleasantville" (1998)
Most audiences got their first look at Walker in Gary Ross's whimsical comedic drama that starred Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as a pair of ultra-modern teens beamed magically into a stale '50s-era sitcom. It was a perfect part for Walker: he played a goofy, amiable teen whose eyes are awoken by Witherspoon's sexual know-how and intellectual curiosity. The role exhibited Walker's aw-shucks charms and genuinely movie star-ish good looks but it also betrayed a steeliness underneath and a willingness to plumb even the simplest roles for dark undercurrents of sinister zeal. (This fearlessness would serve him well later in his career, which we will get to in just a moment). There's something to be said about how Walker totally inhabited a role that, in the hands of a different, less gifted actor, would have otherwise been a two-dimensional cartoon. In a movie that was primarily filmed in black-and-white, Walker gave it lots of color.

Fast & Furious 6 Paul Walker Vin Diesel Dwayne Johnson small

"The Fast and the Furious" (2001)
This was it. Whether he liked it or not, Walker had somehow found himself anchoring a decade+ running franchise, which began with his "The Skulls" director Cohen making him a pitch for a movie that would kind of be like "Point Break," except with really fast cars instead of surfing and skydiving. Ultimately, his growly, charismatic costar Vin Diesel would be more closely associated with the franchise, but Universal initially placed more emphasis on Walker. When Diesel balked at returning for the sequel, a second film was designed around Walker. And looking back on those initial movies, it's easy to see why: yes, the handsomeness is there, as is the goofy, wide-eyed, "gee shucks" attitude that's involved when any ordinary person enters a highly specific, somewhat otherworldly scenario like underground street racing. But there's also a brittle kind of edge, apparent especially in "2 Fast 2 Furious" and "Fast Five," wherein Walker just seems annoyed to be there, stuck in a seemingly endless franchise he was totally unaware would require such longstanding commitment and time. If another actor carried a similar attitude, it would probably be off-putting, but with Walker it just added to the character's charm. His Brian O'Conner went from being a lawman to a wanted outlaw, and Walker's inherent wholesomeness made it seem like he was fighting that urge to go bad just as much as his character.

This article is related to: Paul Walker, The Essentials, Features, Fast and Furious 6, Feature


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates