Walker was born in Glendale, California, and was the son of Cheryl (née Crabtree), a fashion model, and Paul William Walker III, a sewer contractor and a fighter who was a two-time Golden Gloves champion, His ancestry was mostly English, with a smaller amount of German. His paternal grandfather, a professional boxer, had English immigrant grandparents. One of his grandfathers raced factory cars for Ford in the 1960s. The oldest of five siblings, Walker was raised primarily in the Sunland community of Los Angeles and attended high school in the San Fernando Valley, graduating from Sun Valley’s Village Christian School in 1991. He was raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After high school, Walker attended several community colleges in Southern California, majoring in marine biology.
Walker began his small screen career as a toddler, when he starred in a television commercial for Pampers. He began modeling at the age of two and began working on television shows in 1985, with roles in shows such as Highway to Heaven, Who’s the Boss?, The Young and the Restless, and Touched by an Angel. That same year, he starred in a commercial for Showbiz Pizza. Walker’s film career began in 1986, with the horror/comedy film Monster in the Closet. In 1987 he appeared in The Retailiator (aka Programmed to Kill), a low budget cyborg action film, with Robert Ginty. He and his sister Ashlie were contestants on a 1988 episode of the game show I’m Telling!; they finished in second place. In 1993 he played Brandon Collins on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless. He and his co-star Heather Tom, who played Victoria Newman, were nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a soap opera at the Youth in Film Awards. In 1998, Walker made his feature film debut in the comedy Meet the Deedles, which finally gained him fame. This subsequently led to supporting roles in the movies Pleasantville (1998), Varsity Blues (1999), She’s All That (1999), and The Skulls (2000).
In 2001, Walker’s breakthrough role arrived when he starred opposite actor Vin Diesel in the successful action film The Fast and the Furious, the first film in the franchise. The film established Walker as a notable film star and leading man and led to his reprisal of the role in the 2003 sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious. He continued his career with leading roles in films such as Joy Ride (2001), Into the Blue (2005), and Timeline (2003); he had a supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of Flags of Our Fathers (2006).
Walker then starred in the crime thriller Running Scared and Walt Disney Pictures’ Eight Below, both released in 2006. Eight Below garnered critical-acclaim and opened in first place at the box office, grossing over US$20 million during its first weekend. During the filming of Running Scared, director Wayne Kramer stated that “[Walker] is that guy on some level” when comparing Walker with his character in the movie, Joey Gazelle. Kramer continued on to say that he “loved working with [Walker] because as a director he’s completely supportive of my vision of what the film is. And even better, he’s completely game for it.” Walker starred in the independent film The Lazarus Project, which was released on DVD on October 21, 2008. He subsequently returned to The Fast and the Furious franchise, reprising his role in Fast & Furious, which was released on April 3, 2009. Walker then appeared in the crime drama Takers, which began filming in early September 2008 and was released in August 2010. The Coty Prestige fragrance brand Davidoff Cool Water for Men announced in January 2011 that Walker was going to be the new face of the brand as of July 2011. He reprised his role in the fifth installment of The Fast and the Furious series, Fast Five (2011), and again in Fast & Furious 6 (2013). He was part of an ensemble cast for Wayne Kramer’s Pawn Shop Chronicles which was Walker’s last film release before his death. Shortly after his death, the Hurricane Katrina based film Hours, which he had completed earlier in 2013, was released on December 13, 2013. He had also completed the action film Brick Mansions, a remake of the French film District 13, which was released in April 2014. At the time of his death, Walker had been filming Fast & Furious 7, which was slated for release in July 2014. The film will now be completed by using his brothers Caleb and Cody as his body doubles/stand-ins and CGI and release in April 2015. He was also set to play Agent 47 in the Hitman film adaptation but died before production began.
Walker lived in Santa Barbara with his dogs. He and Rebecca Soteros, a one-time girlfriend, have a daughter named Meadow, who lived with her mother in Hawaii for 13 years and then moved to California to live with Walker in 2011. He previously dated Jasmine Gosnell. He held a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller at Paragon Jiu-Jitsu and was awarded with his black belt by Miller posthumously. Walker’s first passion was marine biology; he joined the Board of Directors of The Billfish Foundation in 2006. He fulfilled a lifelong dream by starring in a National Geographic Channel series Expedition Great White (later retitled Shark Men), which premiered in June 2010. He spent 11 days as part of the crew, catching and tagging 7 great white sharks off the coast of Mexico. The expedition, led by Chris Fischer, founder and CEO of Fischer Productions, along with Captain Brett McBride and Dr. Michael Domeier of the Marine Conservation Science Institute took measurements, gathered DNA samples, and fastened real-time satellite tags to the great white sharks. This allowed Dr. Domeier to study migratory patterns especially those associated with mating and birthing over a 5-year period of time. In March 2010, Walker went to Constitución, Chile to offer his help and support to the people injured in the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on February 27. He flew with his humanitarian aid team, Reach Out Worldwide, to Haiti to lend a helping hand to the 2010 Haiti earthquake victims. An avid car enthusiast, he competed in the Redline Time Attack racing series in which he raced an M3 E92 and was on the AE Performance Team. His car was sponsored by Etnies, Brembo Brakes, Ohlins, Volk, OS Giken, Hankook, Gintani, and Reach Out Worldwide. Walker had been preparing for an auto show prior to his death. Roger Rodas became Walker’s financial adviser in 2007 and helped to establish Reach Out Worldwide. Rodas was the CEO of Always Evolving, a Valencia high-end vehicle performance shop owned by Walker. Walker was best friends with his The Fast and the Furious co-star Tyrese Gibson. Toward the end of his life, Walker became a non-denominational Christian.
On November 30, 2013, at approximately 3:30 p.m. PST, Walker and friend Roger Rodas, age 38, a former professional racer who worked as Walker’s financial adviser, left an event for Walker’s charity Reach Out Worldwide for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in Rodas’s red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. The car crashed into a concrete light pole and two trees on Hercules Street, a 45 mph speed zone near Kelly Johnson Parkway in Valencia, Santa Clarita, California, after which the vehicle burst into flames. The crash was caught on film by a security camera. Authorities determined that Rodas was driving the car, while Walker was the passenger. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department declared both victims dead at the scene. Rodas died of multiple traumatic injuries, while Walker died from the combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries, according to the Los Angeles county coroner’s office. Both of their bodies were burned beyond recognition. The curve where Walker and Rodas were killed is a popular spot for drifting cars. The coroner’s report stated that the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT may have been traveling at speeds up to 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) before the crash. The coroner’s report further stated that no alcohol or drugs were found in the systems of either man. Furthermore, it states that there were no hints on technical problems with the car and neither a damaged surface of the street nor parts on the street played a role in the accident. Police investigated as to whether drag racing played a role, but were unable to find evidence of a second car’s involvement. A piece of the car was stolen off the tow truck as the wreckage was towed away on a flatbed. Two men, Jameson Brooks Witty and Anthony Janow, were arrested for grand theft. Walker’s autopsy showed “scant soot” in his trachea, leading investigators to believe he died before the car caught fire, where Rodas was killed by head, neck, and chest trauma. In March 2014, further investigation revealed that the speed of the car was the lone reason for the crash. The car was said to be traveling between 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) and 93 miles per hour (150 km/h), and had nine-year-old tires that were seldom driven on. With Fast & Furious 7 in the middle of filming at the time of Walker’s death, Universal announced an indeterminate hiatus on the production, citing a desire to speak with his family before determining what to do with the film. Numerous friends and movie stars have posted tributes to Walker on social media. Two weeks after his death, Walker’s ashes were buried in a non-denominational ceremony at Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills, in the Courts of Liberty, Gardens of Heritage, Lot 393 (34.14413°N 118.31614°W).
- September, 12, 1973
- Glendale, California
- November, 30, 2013
- Valencia, California
Cause of Death
- burned in car crash
- Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)
- Los Angeles, California