The 5 Best Paul Walker Roles
He seemingly came out of nowhere and became almost an overnight sensation thanks to his role as Brian O’Conner in the Fast and the Furious franchise. Paul Walker was everything a movie star should be — he was good-looking, intense and charismatic. He was also everything that a human being should be — he was a humanitarian. Paul was a father, a son, a brother. He was a person first, an actor second. In fact, friends say he never really thought of himself as an actor. This is ironic because, as an actor, Walker was one of the biggest reasons for the monumental success of the Fast and Furious franchise. Though Vin Diesel has become the godfather of the franchise, and The Rock has become the cool, rule-breaking uncle, Fast and Furious was always Paul Walker’s franchise. It was always his story.
There is so much more to his story though. Walker acted in many other film and television productions over the years. Though he is best remembered as Brian O’Conner, to forget about the other films he was in is to forget just how talented Paul Walker was. Despite that talent, however, there was more to Paul Walker than just the work he put on film. It’s the work he put on film that we want to focus on here, though.
5) She’s All That (1999)
Two years before Paul Walker would get behind the wheel of a Honda Civic and take the world by storm, he appeared in the 1999 romantic comedy, She’s All That. She’s All That starred Rachael Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze Jr. and it was about a “homely” girl that gets asked to prom by the popular boy. Suddenly, after removing her glasses with the song “Kiss Me” playing in the background, the girl is now beautiful and she and Freddy P fall in love. It was Paul Walker that really commanded the screen, however. Walker played Freddie’s best friend-turned-bitter-enemy and proved that he could be a formidable on-screen villain. He took on the James Spader-like role of “Popular Jerk” and he played the role to perfection. Dean was slimy, creepy and altogether undesirable. Basically, his character was everything that his real-life personae was not.
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4) The Skulls (2000)
Speaking of villains, Walker plays yet another one in the 2000 film The Skulls. The Skulls starred fellow 00’s heartthrob Joshua Jackson as a college student who gets initiated into a secret college society known as The Skulls. It is a tremendous honor to be one of The Skulls, but doing so enters a person into a deep, dark web of conspiracy, seduction and even murder. Walker played a character named Caleb Mandrake, which is the most villainous name in the history of film. Mandrake is a friend of Jackson’s character and the son of Skulls alum Litten Mandrake (played by Craig T. Nelson). Rather than being a straight-up “bad guy,” though, Walker plays the role with a hint of vulnerability. The audience isn’t sure if Caleb is actually a bad guy or if he’s just trying to gain the approval and love of his father. It’s a true Shakespearian tragedy, as, towards the end of the movie, Caleb is confronted with the truth about his father.
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3) The Lazarus Project (2013)
What follows is the story of one man’s determination to keep his child alive at all costs. Walker is undoubtedly the star of the film. Audiences feel his grief when he finds out his wife had died in childbirth. They also feel his incredible determination as he fights to keep his baby alive. Walker is wonderful in this role as his everyman portrayal of a dad in an unusual situation keeps audiences engaged throughout the entire runtime. Once Hayes and his baby are finally safe, audiences are able to breathe a sigh of relief — it’s a breath that has been caught since the opening minutes of the film.
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2) Joy Ride (2001)
If the Fast and Furious franchise didn’t exist, Joy Ride would probably be the film that Paul Walker was most remembered by. As an updated take on movies like The Hitcher, Joy Ride tells the story of Lewis Thomas, his brother, and the girl of his dreams as they embark on a road trip. Boys being boys, Lewis and his brother (played by Steve Zahn…remember when he was a thing?) use the CB Radio attached to the car as a way to prank an unsuspecting semi driver. The semi driver, who dubbed himself ‘Rusty Nail,’ is not amused and he stalks the trio through the peaks and valleys of the open road. The chemistry between Walker, Steve Zahn, and Leelee Sobieski is incredible. Audiences genuinely don’t want anything to happen to these three, which is why the film is so suspenseful. Lewis Thomas is an extremely likable character. At first, we just want him to get the girl. By the end of the film, we’re begging for him to survive but we wouldn’t be surprised if he sacrificed himself for his brother and love interest. Joy Ride is an underrated thriller, enhanced by the excellent performance of Paul Walker.
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1) The Fast and the Furious (2001-2014)
No performance can top that of Brian O’Conner, though. When Paul Walker first showed up in the 2001 film, The Fast and the Furious, he was a likable guy, sure. We didn’t know just how much this role would endear him to audiences, though. Brian O’Connor was an undercover FBI agent tasked with taking down the individuals responsible for various vehicular thefts. Those individuals are led by Vin Diesel’s Dominic Torretto. O’Conner must ingratiate himself to Torretto and his ‘family,’ in order to take them down. Brian soon realizes that he is getting “in too deep” with Torretto though, and he must decide what’s more important- the law or family. Brian chooses family and Paul Walker creates a role that has become legendary. Paul Walker portrayed Brian O’Conner in six different movies. Through them all, he captured the hearts and minds of fans from across the world. He went from an undercover rookie cop to an action star before his untimely death in 2013. Brian O’Connor was an action hero, but Paul Walker was a hero, period.
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Take away all the acting credits and Paul Walker would still be a larger-than-life human being. His charity work and the impact he had on friends and family is proof of that. Paul Walker was a great actor. But as a human being? As a human being, there was nobody better. For more information on Reach Out Worldwide, or to donate to the cause, visit http://roww.org/
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