Paul Walker’s sudden death Saturday shocked his legions of fans, including those closest to him. Entertainment Weekly spoke with several of them who remember a man who loved his job but was primarily devoted to his family. Below, some of the most poignant remarks from his friends and colleagues:
“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.” — Dwayne Johnson, Fast & Furious franchise co-star
“We always had a competition thing going. We’d be like ‘alright who can dive deeper.’ I remember we were diving and he had a problem clearing his ears when we were doing the movie because he had some sinus troubles and sure enough a month after the movie wrapped he called me and was like ‘I just went 120 feet with no tank.’ I grew up that way… the way you were with guys was one-upping each other. We clicked so much immediately when we met. It was like ‘I do this’ and he’s like ‘alright I’m going to do this.’ Or, ‘I’m gonna run all my patterns in the movie and I’m going to catch every pass without a double.’ Same thing.” — Scott Caan, on filming Into the Blue with Walker
“In light of this tragedy I don’t want people to forget that Paul was a very, very accomplished driver. He was a very, very skilled driver, skilled enough that we trusted him with our lives by being in the car with him at different times. They were times when we would have crew and personnel and myself in the car with him, you know, shooting different things that you would definitely [normally need] a stunt driver. I don’t want people to lose context of how skilled he was.” — 2 Fast 2 Furious director John Singleton
“He had to be the quarterback, but I wasn’t convinced that this good-looking guy could throw a football. I remember we were at Paramount and we went outside and I took him to an alleyway in between stages there and we threw the football at each other. He proved to me that he could actually throw.” — Varsity Blues director and producer Brian Robbins
“He was always very warm to me and always made me feel like I was part of the family, which he didn’t have to do. But that’s him. He was a very warm man.” — Luke Evans, co-star on Fast & Furious 6
“He was a fantastic counterpoint to Vin [Diesel], even from the beginning when Paul was the cop and Vin the anti-hero. They played off each other nicely. He’s the rock in the middle of the chaos. He was the first family guy on set. He was the first guy to have a child. He brought that to his character. He brought that to the set too. When there were tough times on the set, and these movies were always logistically difficult to make: traveling all over the place, working crazy hours, he was always the one who would have the right thing to say, the one with the sage wisdom.” — Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley
“One of my favorite things that Paul said to me when we cast him was ‘You know, I’m not really an actor. I’m a surfer who occasionally gets work as an actor.’ He grew up in Southern California, and if you couldn’t find him he’d probably be out surfing. … He was a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie.
He was amused by Hollywood. I don’t think he ever took it all that seriously as a young actor. He knew he was handsome, but he just had a humility about him which was really rare and a modesty that was just delightful. He was a rarity. I know tons of actors, there are a lot of terrific actors, but he was truly sort of a selfless, humble guy. He would just go out of his way to help people.” —Joyride director John Dahl
“He always stayed out of the Hollywood limelight. He lived in Santa Barbara and was devoted to his family. One thing that people don’t know is how dedicated he was to helping others. He went down to Haiti right after the earthquake and was raising money for people in the Philippines on Saturday. He was just a a great human being. Everyone fell in love with him the minute they met him,” — Eight Below director Frank Marshall
“I admired him for who he was as a person as much as I did as an actor. He totally led his life to the fullest. A lot of times, I would think to myself, I would like to be Paul Walker. He was a great guy with a great heart. Most importantly he was a great citizen of the world. He was one of those guys who would help out anybody. He treated everyone the same, whether they were in the top position or the lowest position. I think he really liked acting and he was more comfortable with it now then he had ever been in his life, but I think what he really liked was what it enabled him to do with the other parts of his life. — Neal Moritz, producer Fast & Furious franchise.
“He believed in God and heaven. And more than anything, he believed in people. He really believed people were inherently good.” — Walker’s best friend, life coach Jesse Brisendine