With looks suggesting a closet full of football trophies, the blond, blue-eyed Paul Walker has made a name for himself with a number of high-profile projects, including the successful teen flicks She's All That and Varsity Blues.
Hailing from Glendale, CA, where he was born on September 12, 1973, Walker got his start at a young age, modeling and acting in various TV shows including Charles in Charge, Diff'rent Strokes, and Who's the Boss. His film debut came in the 1986 horror spoof Monster in the Closet, which complemented a part in the short-lived 1986 sitcom Throb. After high school, where he was active in a variety of sports, Walker opted to study marine biology at a series of California community colleges. Realizing his real love was acting, Walker resumed his long-dormant career in 1993, with a role on the CBS soap The Young and the Restless. This was followed by a lead role in Tammy and the T-Rex, which also starred an unknown Denise Richards. In 1998, after starring in the desultory Meet the Deedles, Walker won a secondary role as the object of Reese Witherspoon's pent-up passion in the critically acclaimed Pleasantville. His onscreen success continued with the following year's She's All That and Varsity Blues, both of which allowed the actor to capitalize on the craze for teens on the screen. In 2001, Walker tackled a leading role as he put the pedal to the metal with burgeoning star Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious. A throwback to the forgotten drive-in exploitationers of the past, adrenalized and pumped-up for the new millennium, The Fast and the Furious brought Walker into edgier thriller territory as a youthful undercover FBI agent drawn into the world of underground racing gangs. Taking to the road once again, Walker appeared later that year as a teen stalked by a maniacal trucker while on the way to pick-up his dream girl (Leelee Sobieski) in Joy Ride.
In 2003, Walker reprised his Fast and the Furious role for the sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious, before signing on to appear alongside Penelope Cruiz, Susan Sarandon, and Alan Arkin for veteran actor Chazz Palminteri's big screen directorial debut, the ensemble drama Noel. The low-key movie provided a fore into films of a more subdued, dramatic nature, but the young actor wouldn't stay away from the thriller genre for long. In 2005 he appeared with Jessica Alba in the underwater adventure Into the Blue, and by 2006 he starred in the crime drama Running Scared.
Walker kept the adrenaline pumping but widened his target audience for his next film, the Disney feature Eight Below. Walker starred as an Antarctic explorer who is forced to leave his beloved sled dogs behind when his life is in danger, but remains determined to rescue them. The movie was more family friendly than his other recent efforts, but before long he would be back to the grown-up fare that seemed to suit him. He next took a role in the John Herzfeld action flick The Death and Life of Bobby Z, in which he played opposite Laurence Fishburne as a convict who agrees to pose as a deceased drug dealer during a hostage switch. The edgy crime film was right up his alley, but Walker would change gears again for his next film, playing one of the six soldiers who raised the American flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima during WWII, in the Clint Eastwood movie Flags of Our Fathers. He was the lead in the 2006 action film Running Scared, as well as the star of the old-fashioned adventure film Eight Below. In 2009 he returned to his signature franchise with Fast & Furious, and followed that up with the crime film Takers, and then Fast Five, which became a huge hit. Walker continued to apppear in The Fast and the Furious franchise films before ironically losing his life as a passenger in a car crash at age 40 in 2013.
~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi