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Monday, December 2, 2013

Remembering Paul Walker

Beyond "The Fast and the Furious" Paul Walker Had a Rich Body of Work

By Chris Sabga

Paul Walker's untimely death on Saturday after a tragic car crash and explosion shocked everyone. He was only 40 years old.

Of course, he's best known for "The Fast and the Furious" series of films. I have to confess: I still haven't seen any of them. That's become something of a running joke among my circle of friends: Every time a new installment comes out, I have to decline an invitation to see it with them because I still have to catch up.

Despite that, Walker still managed to become one of my favorite actors. After all, he did so much more than just the "Fast" flicks. Here are five of my favorites – some you might have seen and others you may not be familiar with.

Eight Below: Anyone who dislikes this movie has a heart that's too hard and isn't someone I want to have anything to do with. Paul Walker plays a sled dog trainer who is forced to leave his canine babies behind in the unforgiving Antarctic cold but never gives up on their rescue. The bond between Walker and the animals is completely believable and heartfelt.

Noel: Christmas movies either work or they don't. "Noel" works. Surrounded by a stellar cast that includes Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz. Alan Arkin, and Chazz Palminteri, Walker is one of the highlights.

Running Scared: "Running Scared" is beloved among Paul Walker fans for good reason: it's a fun, stylish action film that never fails to entertain. But it also delves into some dark, serious territory, which makes it more memorable than most in this genre.

Into the Blue: This is just pure escapism – an absolute blast to watch. Jessica Alba looks incredible in a bikini, Paul Walker probably has the same effect, and Scott Caan and Josh Brolin come along for the ride. What's not to like?

Vehicle 19: People expecting the wild car chases found in the "Fast" franchise might have been disappointed, but this tense thriller was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. Walker is superb at conveying a desperate mixture of anger and panic. (Full review)

Those and the "Fast" films only scratch the surface. Walker left behind a full body of work. "Joy Ride" and "The Skulls" are also much loved by his fans. I plan to eventually see his other 2013 films, "Hours" and "The Pawn Shop Chronicles," as well as slightly older ones like "Takers."

His final film appears to be the upcoming "Brick Mansions," which is scheduled for release in 2014. Assuming the cast list on IMDB is in the correct order, the other lead actors will be Robert Maillet (former WWE wrestler Kurrgan) and RZA. I'm excited!

No matter the role, Paul Walker always came across as completely genuine. That was his biggest strength as an actor.

This great article on recounts Walker's efforts as a marine biologist, racecar driver, sportsman, father, and humanitarian. He was involved in a relief effort for Typhoon Haiyan the day he died.

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