LOS ANGELES – Paul Walker, the star of the “Fast & Furious” movie series, died Saturday in a car crash that killed one other person north of Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 40.
A statement on the actor’s Facebook page said he was a passenger in a friend’s car, and that Walker was in the area to attend a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.
“We … are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news,” the statement said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said deputies found a car engulfed in flames when they responded to a report of a collision in the community of Valencia. Two people who were found in the car were pronounced dead at the scene.
A red Porsche crashed into a light pole and tree and burst into flames, the Santa Clarita Signal reported.
Walker was working on “Fast & Furious 7” at the time of his death. He also starred in the suspense drama “Hours,” which is set for release this month.
Walker rode the “Fast & Furious” franchise to stardom, starring in all but one of the six action blockbusters, beginning with the first film in 2001. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Los Angeles native brought California surfer good looks and an easy, warm charm to the popular street-racing series.
The son of a fashion model and a sewer contractor, Walker grew up in a working class, Mormon Los Angeles household. The oldest of five siblings, Walker’s mother began taking him to auditions as a toddler. He was a child model beginning at the age of 2.
Walker has said the early induction to show business wasn’t to start him on a career path, but as a way to help provide for the family.
After a string of TV roles as a child in the ’80s, Walker made his feature film debut in the 1998 comedy “Meet the Deedles.” Supporting roles in the films “Pleasantville,” “Varsity Blues” and “She’s All That” followed.
His performance in the 2000 thriller “The Skulls” caught the eye of producer Neal Moritz, who cast him in “The Fast and the Furious” as undercover police officer Brian O’Conner. Adapted from a Vibe magazine article about underground street races, the film became an unexpected hit.
Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter.