Paul Walker was an awesome actor who we lost far, far before his time. He was the main character through six of the Fast and Furious movies, which would go on to become one of the five highest-grossing franchises of all time. He was a great actor and driver but he was an even better person off-screen, which is why we’re writing about him. People deserve to know what kind of person the lead guy from Fast and Furious was like.
He was much more than just a pretty face. He was best friends with his co-stars, Tyrese Gibson, and Vin Diesel. He took the role of Brian O’Conner because he loved the idea of an undercover cop being a race car driver. He obviously never knew how much the franchise would resonate with people around the world, or how successful it would become, but luckily he got to see a bit of that success before we lost him in 2013.
This article is full of facts about his life both on- and off-screen, including tidbits about his family, the lawsuits filed in his name after the tragic crash in 2013, and about his past and history. He was a surfer dude at heart, sort of like a younger Matthew McConaughey, and we’re betting that if his life had not been cut short, he would have had an even more tremendous career, perhaps like McConaughey.
Here are 25 little-known facts about the life of Paul Walker that we didn’t know until we started researching.
25 He Helped A Young Veteran
Now, for something a little more lighthearted and heartwarming, after that bit of sadness for Tyrese and Vin’s lost brother. As you can probably tell by his actions off-screen—saving the sharks, helping impoverished families in Haiti—Paul Walker was a kind-hearted individual. One story (via Factinate.com) recounts a time when he was shopping in a jewelry store and he saw a young US veteran shopping with his fiancée for a wedding ring. Walker went to the store’s manager and told him that he would pay for the ring, as a salute to the man’s service and so he didn’t need to go broke to get married.
24 He Founded A Disaster Relief Organization
Paul Walker was a very giving, charitable individual. He was not one of these Hollywood stars who only thought about himself. He tried to help wildlife (sharks, mainly), as well as people around the world. After visiting Haiti in 2010 and seeing the terrible conditions following the massive earthquake there, he founded a disaster relief organization called Reach Out Worldwide. The organization specializes in providing “basic necessities and medical assistance to survivors in the bleakest of circumstances.” When Paul walker got in his tragic car accident, he had been leaving a Reach Out Worldwide event that day.
23 He And His Sister Were Game Show Contestants
As mentioned earlier, Paul Walker got his “start” in the business at the young age of 2, in a Pampers commercial, and he was in his first film at 13, in the horror-comedy film Monster in the Closet. In between that time, he didn’t stray far from the camera: in 1988, he and his sister Ashlie were contestants on an episode of the game show I’m Telling!—and they actually finished in second place. The show was a children’s version of The Newlywed Game, featuring young siblings rather than married couples.
22 His Grandfather Was A Famous Boxer
The Paul Walker we know and love is actually Paul William Walker the IV and his grandfather, Paul Williams II was a professional boxer who went by the name "Irish" Billy Walker. He was a heavyweight whose (other) nickname was “Golden Boy” and his professional record was 21 wins (16 by knockout), 8 losses, and 2 draws. After retiring in 1969 as a very wealthy 30-year-old, he appeared in several films and TV shows, and also raced cars for Ford. Perhaps that’s where Paul Walker IV got his love for cars!
21 He Started Acting At The Age Of 2
Most child actors we know got their big starts as the children of some famous adult actor, and then they stole the show in the movie. Usually, child actors start between 5 and 10 years old and they have a tough time transitioning to adult acting (and dealing with fame). But every once in a while, you get a child actor like Paul Walker, who not only started at the incredibly young age of two but also transitioned into adult acting flawlessly. His first credit was in a Pampers commercial, as a chubby baby, and he was in his first movie at 13, in the horror-comedy Monster in the Closet.
20 Wanted To Go Into Marine Biology Before He Got Famous
Paul Walker was not only a good actor (both in the looks and talents department) but he was also smart. Many actors and actresses are incredibly smart, in fact, and often have big ambitions prior to becoming famous. Walker was no different—he studied Marine Biology at several community colleges in Southern California (we’ll touch more on why he went with Marine Biology in a bit) and wanted to get into that field before he got his break as an actor. He once met Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of his childhood idol, Jacques Cousteau, at a charity event.
19 Questionable Dating Habits
This is one of those secret facts that might be a bit off-putting to some, but it’s still part of Paul Walker’s history. Yes, the actor’s most recent girlfriend before his passing was much younger than he was. Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell made headlines for being just 16 when they allegedly started dating in 2006, back when he was 33. There were rumors that they got engaged back in 2008 (when she would have been 18), but those rumors fizzled. They reportedly broke up in 2011, though more rumors (from Metro.co.uk) thought they might have gotten back together recently, before his demise.
18 He Owned A High-End Performance Car Shop Called Always Evolving
Paul Walker was a true car buff—not just in the Fast and Furious movies, but in real life, too. It can’t be stated enough but it can be proven when we look at car-related things in his life. For instance, he owned a high-end performance car shop, called Always Evolving. The shop was located in Valencia, California and frequently had car meets to promote their exotic tune-ups. In fact, Roger Rodas, the man who had been driving the Porsche when they crashed in 2013, was the CEO of Always Evolving and he was also Walker’s financial advisor.
17 His Mobile Home Was Featured On MTV Cribs
Most famous stars had their lavish mansions or estates featured on MTV Cribs back when the show was in its heyday but not Paul Walker! He was an anomaly and actually had his mobile home featured on the show. His mobile home was the real deal: he showed off the vehicle’s sweet tape deck and his empty fridge, and also showed one of his “set homes” that overlooked the ocean. That’s one of the better things about owning a mobile home, that you can always move to the climate and location where you want to be—in Walker’s case, close to the ocean.
16 He Was In A Music Video For The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are a ska punk band from Boston that formed in 1983 and reached a pretty high level of fame, often being credited as one of the progenitors of the ska-punk genre, and the creator of its subgenre, ska-core. They became influential in the 1990s in the development of the USA's third-wave ska scene and were one of the first to popularize the genre in mainstream music. Paul Walker was sighted in the band’s music video, “Wrong Thing Right Then,” featured on the Meet the Deedles soundtrack. In the video, Walker rode in the back of a car with his co-stars.
15 He Was A Racecar Driver
We don’t just mean he was a racecar drive on-screen in the Fast and Furious franchise, because that is pretty obvious. But did you know that Paul Walker was also a racecar driver in real life? Yes, he actually competed in the Redline Time Attack racing series and was on the AE Performance Team (AE as in Always Evolving, his car shop name). He drove a BMW M3 E92 at the 2010 West Coast event in the Street Tire class. Prior to that, he’d raced with his R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R and a Porsche 911 GT3 RS (one of the fastest production Porsches ever made).
14 He Was Almost In Star Wars
Yes, Paul Walker was almost part of one of the other biggest franchises of all time: Star Wars. And it wasn’t just a bit part or background character he had been trying out for. He auditioned to play the role of Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy! Unfortunately, he was told by the executives that he was too old to play the character, and it ended up passing on to Hayden Christenson (and look what Hayden did with his acting career—maybe the execs didn’t make the best decision in this regard). We think he would have made an excellent pod racer, at the very least!
13 Owned The Nissan Skyline R34 In F&F
Yes, the car that Brian O’Conner drives most frequently in the Fast and Furious franchise was actually owned by Paul Walker and it was touched up in his Always Evolving car shop. So it had a bit of sentimentality to him. It was one of nine Skylines used for the films, but the only REAL one—the others were stunt cars fitted on VW Beetle chassis. The car ran on a twin-turbo, 2.6-liter, straight-six engine, with a Turbonetics front-mounted intercooler, and put out a whopping 550 horsepower! Not only that, but Walker also helped hand-pick all the cars that were used in the Fast and Furious movies!
12 He Made Vin Diesel The Godfather To His Daughter
Meadow Walker, the daughter of the late Paul Walker, is a rather reclusive figure in the world of paparazzi and the media. She has stayed out of the limelight—for good reason, we think. But this just shows how close Vin Diesel and Paul really were—not just as co-stars, but as friends in real life. Walker made Diesel his daughter’s godfather when she was still quite young. Obviously, you never wish a godfather will have to be involved in that person’s life as a parent, because that means something bad happened to the real parent. But in this case, you probably couldn’t ask for a better godfather than Vin Diesel.
11 He Had Been Preparing For An Auto Show
Before he passed away, Paul Walker had been working hard on preparing for an auto show. As we know, he was an avid car enthusiast, both competing in the Redline Time Attack series with an M3 E92 and owning his own car shop. Well, his high-end shop was set to be featured at an auto show prior to his passing and the car he was going to feature, the BMW M3 E92, was sponsored by a whole lot of big names, including Etnies, Brembo Brakes, Ohlins, Volk, OS Giken, Hankook, Gintani, and Reach Out Worldwide. Those are some of the biggest names in the automobile industry!
10 His Father Filed A Lawsuit Against Roger Rodas
Roger Rodas was the driver of the Porsche that crashed with both him and Paul Walker inside. And he was also Walker’s financial advisor and the CEO of his company, Always Evolving. In December 2014, Walker’s father, Paul Walker III, filed a lawsuit against Rodas’ estate, seeking the return of “a proportionate share” of revenue generated by a group of automobiles that had been jointly owned by both Walker and Rodas. This is the lesser known of the lawsuits that were filed on Paul Walker’s behalf.
9 His Daughter Filed A Lawsuit Against Porsche
This one made more headlines because it was his own daughter who filed the suit, against one of the biggest carmakers in the world, Porsche. Meadow filed the suit, claiming that Walker’s car had defects. She claimed the Porsche Carrera GT had numerous design defects, including a history of instability and that seatbelt placement can cause harm upon impact. Porsche responded by denying any wrongdoing and blamed Walker himself in rather heartless fashion, saying, “The perils, risk, and danger were open and obvious and known to him, and he chose to conduct himself in a manner so as to expose himself to such perils, dangers, and risks, thus assuming all the risks involved in using the vehicle.” Meadow settled out of court.
8 He Was Raised Mormon
Many people have never seen the religious side of Paul Walker because he chose to keep that mostly to himself (though it’s impossible to keep everything to yourself when you’re that famous). He was raised in a Mormon household but then he converted to non-denominational Christianity later in life. He said he could never understand atheists, one time claiming in an interview, “I go surfing and snowboarding and I’m always around nature. I look at everything and think, ‘Who couldn’t believe there’s a God? Is all this a mistake?’ It just blows me away.”
7 Tyrese Gibson And Vin Diesel Had To Go To The Scene Themselves
Keep the tissues close: co-stars Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pierce), and Vin Diesel (Dom Torreto) were close friends with Paul Walker. After he passed away, they had to go to the scene of the crash to see it for themselves and there were a lot of paparazzi and media who followed them to document their bittersweet moment. It wasn’t meant to be a media event but Tyrese Gibson, in particular, gave a heart-wrenching account of his friendship with Paul at the scene, filled with tears and sadness—and there wasn’t a dry eye around.
6 He Hated Watching Himself On-screen
There are quite a few actors who have big heads and bigger personalities—being in the limelight just isn’t enough and there’s never enough fame to go around. But there are others who are much more low-key and do things behind the scenes that people don’t even know about (such is the reason we’re writing this article). One quirky thing about Paul Walker was that he hated watching himself on-screen. He would turn out for the premieres, to show his respects, but after that he would never watch his films again, thinking that his acting was cringe-worthy. Johnny Depp is another actor who has purportedly never seen his own films, so Walker is in good company.
5 The Reason He Signed On To Fast & Furious
It’s crazy when you read the little moments that change a person’s life: the decisions a person makes that opens the doors for them. In Paul Walker’s case, it was the fact that he had liked the idea of playing undercover cop—like a cool cop, like in Donnie Brasco—but with cars. That was the reason he ended up signing on to the Fast and Furious franchise, and the rest was history. It was all because he loved Donnie Brasco and wanted to be like him. In the end, the F&F films featuring Paul Walker would make billions more than Donnie Brasco.
4 He Performed All His Stunts Himself In The First Movie
Paul Walker was not afraid to perform stunts—in fact, he preferred it. After reading this article, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise. He was a Jiu-Jitsu brown belt, he swam with sharks, his grandfather was a world class boxer… he had all the means and grit to do the action scenes and he was definitely young enough to do them without getting hurt. Still, some of the stunts that he did were pretty mindblowing—and we’re talking about stunts that even Dwayne Johnson would have had a body double do! For instance, in the opening race where the bridge jump occurs (in the first film), his car sustained an oil pan rupture and damage to all four rims!
3 Won A Teen Choice Award With His Car From 2 Fast 2 Furious
Back in 2003, when Paul Walker was 30 years old, he won a Teen Choice Award for “Choice Movie Chemistry,” in hilarious fashion, as the chemistry he shared was with his car, his 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34, of all things. While Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner (Daredevil), and Jim Carrey & God (Bruce Almighty), were other nominees, “Paul Walker & his car” was the winner. He also won the “Best On-Screen Team” with his co-star, Vin Diesel, at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards. He also won Teen Choice Awards in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015 (starting with Fast 5, up to Furious 7).
2 Was In National Geographic
Here’s where Paul Walker’s Marine Biology major played a big role in his life: in 2010, he joined National Geographic’s Shark Expedition, a TV documentary about monitoring great white sharks. Before that, he’d spent 11 days off the coast of Mexico with a film crew and shark experts, shooting footage of great whites for the channel’s Expedition Great White. He was featured in 2013’s Spawn of Jaws during Shark Week, too, in which he helped his friend Dr. Michael Domeier tag a great white shark, in hopes of locating the pupping grounds, to protect the area. He was part of the 2014 documentary, Expedition Great White Big Mama, too.
1 He Was A Brown Belt In Jiu-Jitsu
Besides being quite the fighter in his movies, Paul Walker was also not someone you’d want to mess with in real life. He was a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is the second highest belt behind black, and there are actually online videos of his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu highlights that you can still find. In 2013, less than two weeks since his tragic passing, Walker was honored with a BJJ black belt from his long time instructor and friend, Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller at the Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in California.
Sources: Zimbio, MTV, Useless Daily, and Factinate.