Most famous for playing the role of Brian O’Conner in the Fast and Furious franchise, Walker’s high-octane lifestyle off-screen practically matched the larger-than-life persona he played in the movies. Here, we’ll look at his early beginnings and how he eventually became the popular action movie star who was taken too soon.
Early Life and Career
Just by looking at his family background, it’s clear that Paul William Walker IV was born to star in action movies. He was born in Glendale, California to a fashion model mother and a father who was both a sewer contractor and a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion. On top of that, his paternal grandfather had a successful boxing career as well and another one of his grandfathers raced raced factory cars for Ford in the 1960s. You can guess where he got his love of cars from.
Walker got his acting start at a young age, when he began modeling at the age of two. He would start acting in television shows at 12, starring in such shows as Who?s the Boss?, Touched by an Angel, and Highway to Heaven. At the age of 13, Walker began his big-screen film career.
While he had supporting roles in such films as Pleasantville, Varsity Blues, She’s All That, and The Skulls, 2001 was the year that Walker would finally get his big break.
Fast and Furious Stardom
Paul Walker’s transition from supporting actor to mega star happened with the 2001 commercial success The Fast and The Furious. Starring opposite Vin Diesel, Walker would go on to star in five of the seven Fast and Furious installments (The Fast and The Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6), and went from making $1 million for the first movie to $15 million for the last.
Walker would go on to win several awards for the Brian O’Conner role, including the 2002 MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Team (shared with Vin Diesel), the 2014 MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo (also shared with Diesel), and the 2015 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actor: Action.
During the success that came from his roles in the Fast and Furious series, Walker also starred in such films as Into the Blue, Eight Below, Running Scared, and Joy Ride.
The Infamous Car Collection
Since this is a car website and all, we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up the huge car collection — worth more than $4 million — that Paul Walker amassed during his lifetime. Walker had more than 30 cars in his collection, many of which he co-owned with Roger Rodas — Walker’s friend and financial planner who was behind the wheel of the Porsche during the crash that killed both him and Walker.
Here’s a look at some of the cars in Walker’s collection, a few of which were not even street legal in the United States:
- Audi S4 (B5)
- BMW M1
- BMW 2002tii Touring Alpina
- 2x BMW E30 M3 
- 3x BMW E36 M3 Lightweight
- Chevrolet Corvette (C1)
- Chevrolet Chevelle SS convertible
- Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale
- Ferrari 400i
- Ferrari F355 Spider Fiorano edition
- Ferrari Testarossa
- Ford Bronco II
- Ford GT (1st gen with a Whipple supercharger producing a claimed 800 hp)
- Boss 302 Mustang (1st gen)
- Ford Mustang Cobra R
- Ford Mustang Eleanor recreation
- 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
- 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
- Lincoln Continental (4th gen) convertible
- Maserati Quattroporte
- Mercedes-Benz 560 SL
- 2009 Nissan 370Z
- Nissan R34 Skyline Spec V
- Nissan Silvia (S15)
- 3x Porsche 911 997 GT3 RS
- 2x Porsche 930 Turbo
- Rolls-Royce Ghost
- Saleen S7
- 1965 Shelby Ford Mustang GT350SR continuation car
- Toyota Supra Mk4
- Volvo P1800
Most of these cars were sold at auction following Walker’s death.
The Fatal Car Accident and the Aftermath
On November 30, 2013, while leaving a charity event in Valencia, California, Paul Walker and Roger Rodas were killed after the Porsche Carrera GT that Rodas was driving slammed into two trees and a concrete lamp post. The car burst into flames and both Walker and Rodas died instantly. A later investigation concluded that the Porsche had been traveling an excess of 93 MPH in a 45 MPH zone and that the area was a popular spot for drifting cars.
While Furious 7 was in production at the time of Walker’s car accident death, production was halted out of respect for Walker and his family.
As a tribute to Walker, the song See You Again appeared on the Furious 7 soundtrack, spending 12 non-consecutive weeks atop the US Billboard Hot 100 and tying Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” for the longest-running rap number-one single in the U.S.
In 2016, Meadow Rain Walker — Walker’s daughter with one-time girlfriend Rebecca Soteros — was awarded $10.1 million in a wrongful death settlement with the Rodas estate and, the following year, Meadow Walker reached a settlement with Porsche for an undisclosed amount.
Released on August 11, 2018, the documentary I Am Paul Walker offered an inside look at the life and legacy of the late movie star.
Paul Walker Net Worth
With an estimated net worth of $25 million at the time of his death, Walker got paid pretty well to do what he loved to do: drive cars and drive them fast. Unfortunately, it was that passion that ultimately led to his untimely death at the age of 40. Even still, his legacy lives on, through his movies, his daughter Meadow, and the lives he touched along the way.
This post was originally published on January 7, 2019.