Dwayne Johnson Paul Walker
Credit: Felipe Dana/AP

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shared the screen with Paul Walker on 2011’s Fast Five and 2013’s Fast & Furious 6. In honor of Walker, who passed away Nov. 30, Johnson called EW to reflect on his friend and costar.

Entertainment Weekly: It seems like Paul didn’t relish the media spotlight, so we don’t actually know all that much about him off-screen. What would you like people to know?

Dwayne Johnson: That was one of the interesting things about Paul: his reservations about being in the spotlight and being a star, whatever the definition of that may be. He was motivated by work that allowed him to take care of his family, number one, and that also allowed him the power and the leverage to help people in need and in crisis. When I first met Paul, I think in our late 20s, we were young kids in the business. Then years later, when I did Fast Five, we had an opportunity to spend a lot of time together and become reacquainted. At that time, we had both been in the business at that time for over a decade, and the most important thing that we had in common was the importance of family time and being a great father to our daughters. We bonded over that.

Paul talked about how much his life changed when his daughter moved in with him. As a friend, could you see that?

It was always the number one topic we would talk about. We would talk about silly guy things, his fast cars and my pickup trucks, or we would talk about the beautiful energy of Hawai’i — but it always ultimately came back to family. And very specifically the beautiful and important bond between a father and his daughter, and how we both realized that over the years. Not surprisingly, when I got the news that he had passed away, the first words out of my mouth were, “He has a daughter.” It’s very sad. We can’t help but to hope that their final time together was beautiful and strong and an amazing memory.

What was it like working with him on the Fast & Furious movies?

Paul came prepared. He spent a lot of time on the road with police officers and a lot of time handling weapons to make sure he was incredibly proficient. When you see Paul onscreen, you 100% push all your chips in to the authenticity with which he plays his roles. With Fast Five, even though I had known the majority of the actors over the years, they were essentially a tight knit family and a very strong unit. In front of the camera, there’s a lot of action and a lot of frenetic energy. And off camera, there’s a lot of action and a lot of frenetic energy. [laughs] Which I’m sure you’ve heard about. Paul was very welcoming, and a very calming presence on set.

Read more about Paul Walker’s legacy in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.

Fast and Furious
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