Los Angeles (AFP) – Fans and fellow actors on Sunday mourned the death of Paul Walker, best known as undercover agent Brian O’Connor in the “Fast and Furious” action movies, in a fiery car crash in California.
Walker, 40, appeared in all but one of the six movies in the popular franchise, and was a leading protagonist along with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez.
“It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide,” the late actor’s publicists wrote on his Facebook account on Saturday. “He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives.”
The publicists wrote that they were “stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.” The message was also linked to Walker’s Twitter account.
Walker was killed when the red Porsche sports car he was traveling in slammed into a tree and caught fire around 3:30 pm on Saturday in the town of Santa Clarita, in Los Angeles county, local media reported.
Witnesses recognized Walker and one onlooker even tried to pull him from the wreckage, the local Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper reported.
Walker was taking a Thanksgiving break from filming the seventh “Fast and Furious” movie, which had been scheduled for release in July.
The crew had filmed in Atlanta and were set to travel to Abu Dhabi in January, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Walker had been at an event to raise money for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines for Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW), a non-profit disaster relief group the actor founded.
ROWW has sent teams of experts to help in natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and tornado-stricken towns in the United States.
“Brother I will miss you very much,” wrote Hollywood star Diesel on his Instagram account. “I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace.”
Another “Fast and Furious” co-star, Ludacris, wrote on Twitter: “Your humble spirit was felt from the start, wherever you blessed your presence you always left a mark, we were like brothers & our birthdays are only 1 day apart, now You will forever hold a place in all of our hearts @paulwalker legacy will live on forever.”
And former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who also appears in the franchise, wrote: “All my strength, love & faith to the Walker family during this heartbreaking time. We find our strength.. in his light. Love you brother.”
The late actor is survived by his 15-year-old daughter Meadow.
In real life Walker raced cars, described himself on Twitter as an “outdoorsman, ocean addict,” and “adrenaline junkie,” and did many of his own movie stunts.
In a departure from his action movie roles, Walker is due to appear in “Hours,” an independent movie set for mid-December release about a father who struggles to keep his ailing infant daughter alive after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.
Walker was also scheduled to star in the 2014 crime-action film “Brick Mansions,” a remake of the 2004 French movie District B13.
Before his “Fast and Furious” breakthrough Walker appeared in TV commercials as a child, and was in several 1980s TV shows. He became a teen heartthrob, appearing in such movies as “Pleasantville” (1988), “She’s All That” and “Varsity Blues” (both 1999).
The first “Fast and Furious” movie appeared in 2001.
The series, with its focus on fast cars, tough guys, sexy starlets and exotic locales, is one of Hollywood’s most lucrative global franchises.
Fans poured out their grief on social media, including the franchise’s pages on Instagram and Facebook.
More than one million people had either liked or commented in various languages on the death notice on Walker’s Facebook page.
“Fast and Furious will not be the same without you Paul!!” wrote fan Sedat Yildirim.