On Saturday night, I received a text message from a friend. TMZ is saying Paul Walker died! I just knew it was another celebrity death hoax. TMZ's initial headline read, Paul Walker Dead At 40 In Fiery Car Crash. Another website said it wasn't true. For the next hour, I hit refresh over and over again. The story was spreading, but I couldn't find definitive confirmation. I kept holding out hope it was all a bad joke. I eventually clicked over to Facebook and there it was. Paul's official Facebook page had been updated with the news of his death.
I don't claim to know Paul Walker. I'm just a fan. It all started back in 2001 with a little movie called The Fast and the Furious. For me, it was an instant hit. I had the soundtrack. I bought the DVD the day it came out. Even when Vin Diesel opted out of the second one, I still went to the theater on opening night to see it. The same goes for the third one. And the fourth one. And the fifth one. And the sixth one! I still can't believe the success of this franchise. The movies have made over a billion dollars worldwide. I'm obviously not the only one who loves a good car chase.
I have cried several times for this man I've never met. From what I've read about Paul over the years, he was a simple guy. Even though he was a huge star, he didn't surround himself with Hollywood-types. He surfed. He raised his daughter. He created his own charity and donated his time and money countless times. On the day of his death, his charity was raising money for the typhoon victims in the Philippines.
As for my favorite movie franchise, it's up in the air as to whether they'll finish the seventh film. Even if it's over, I'll always have my DVDs. I can look at Paul's baby blues and gorgeous smile any time I want. And, to me, he'll forever be Officer Brian O'Conner.
"I just don’t understand. My heart hurts. It's broken." -- Tyrese Gibson
"I will always love you, Brian, as the brother you were... on and off screen." -- Vin Diesel
"He was motivated by work that allowed him to take care of his family, number one, and that also allowed him the power and the leverage to help people in need and in crisis." -- Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
"He lived with integrity, humanity and humility and seemed most happy when talking about his daughter, Meadow. I don't know anyone who lived each moment more fully and loved life more than Paul, making his loss all the more heartbreaking." -- Jordana Brewster
"He always stayed out of the Hollywood limelight. He lived in Santa Barbara and was devoted to his family. One thing that people don’t know is how dedicated he was to helping others. He went down to Haiti right after the earthquake and was raising money for people in the Philippines on Saturday. He was just a a great human being. Everyone fell in love with him the minute they met him." -- Frank Marshall
"He believed in God and Heaven. And more than anything, he believed in people. He really believed people were inherently good." -- Jesse Brisendine
You can donate directly to Paul's charity here. Fast and Furious 6 goes on sale next Tuesday, December 10. A portion of all DVD sales will go directly to his charity as well.