By Lindsey Bahr
December 05, 2013 at 09:17 PM EST
Jon Furniss/Invision/AP

Unlike many of Paul Walker’s Fast & Furious co-stars, who’d worked with and known the late actor for over a decade, Luke Evans was a newcomer to the game. He joined the franchise at the sixth movie — an intimidating prospect for anyone.

But Walker wasn’t about to make him feel like an outsider.

“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,” Evans told EW while promoting The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. “But that’s him. He was a very warm man.”

Evans had nothing but fond memories of getting to know Walker both as a person and a colleague. “The first time I met him we were rehearsing fight sequences together. He gave everything, actually. He came to rehearsals every time,” he said.

Even though Walker and Evans bonded quickly, often discussing career ambitions, it was also evident that he had an important life outside of the movie and his co-stars. “He was always surrounded by friends and family. He incorporated them into his life as much as he could. I was always very aware of that the second I met him, and I thought that was a lovely thing,” he said. Evans made clear that he never specifically discussed Walker’s teenage daughter Meadow, but he was keenly aware that she was at the center of his universe. “All I know is he loved her dearly and she played a huge part in his life. She meant the world to him,” he said.

Evans was quick to express concern for his Fast co-stars too. “He was a big part of that film and that family, and I can’t imagine how Vin [Diesel] and the rest of the guys must be feeling. That’s a whole 10-year experience that they’ve had with each other. It must be horrific,” he said. “My heart just goes out to them all.”