I Am Paul Walker: A Look at Hollywood Reluctant Star (Fast and Furious), Who Died at 40

Paramount Network is releasing I Am Paul Walker, a one-hour exploration of the life and times of the late Fast and Furious actor, who died at age 40 in fatal car accident.

I Am Paul Walker features interviews with his family and colleagues such as Fast and the Furious star Tyrese Gibson and director Rob Cohen.

He was a star who wished to distance himself from Hollywood when possible.  “When Paul wasn’t in L.A. making movies, he wasn’t even in the country. He would be in the Amazon. He would be diving with sharks,” Wayne Kramer, director of Walker’s 2006’s film Running Scared, says in the documentary.

At a young age, the Glendale, California native began acting in commercials. The documentary showed off his appearance as a little boy on a dog food commercial for Puppy Formula.

Afterwards, Walker walked away from acting and took up a fascination in cars.  He also began a relationship with Rebecca Soteros, who would later become the mother of his daughter Meadow in 1998. The documentary details how fatherhood was initially difficult for Paul.  “Emotionally I wasn’t there yet. Because I didn’t even know who the hell I was,” Walker said in an audio clip.

Soteros later moved to Hawaii with Meadow to study to be a teacher, while Walker tried to stay connected with his daughter while pursuing his career in acting.

“You felt his love. You felt his spirit. You felt his energy. You felt his morale. His energy. The inclusion,” Gibson said of Paul.

Gibson and Paul met filming the Fast and Furious series, joining the franchise in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious.  “As a man, he wasn’t intimidating. He was so regular. So grounded and so cool. He was the man every woman wanted to be with and every man wanted to be like,” Gibson said.

Paul got attached to the Fast and Furious franchise after working with director Cohen on the psychological thriller The Skulls.  Walker knew he wanted to work with Cohen again. According to his manager Matt Luber, the actor heard of his idea of a cop falling in love with the underground racing world, which would become The Fast and The Furious.  “I’m in,” Luber recalled him saying.

The franchise skyrocketed him into major Hollywood stardom, and he would be approached to be the next Superman.

At times, like after filming 2005’s Into the Blue, Walker would leave his career behind for a period of time to go on trips in the wilderness and surfing. “He felt anxious,” his mother Cheryl Walker said of Paul’s mindset after working on the film. So when the idea of working in spandex and cape for multiple movies, Paul rejected the idea.