Tonight, some sad and unexpected news comes from Los Angeles: Paul Walker, the actor best known for his central role in all but one of the Fast and the Furious movies, has died in a fatal car accident. He was 40 years old.
According to the initial report from TMZ, Walker was involved in "a single-car accident and explosion" in Santa Clarita, just north of Los Angeles. "Multiple sources" close to the actor have confirmed to sites like Variety and Deadline that:
"The actor was in a Porsche when the driver somehow lost control and slammed into a post or a tree ... and then the car burst into flames."
Walker was reportedly in Santa Clarita for a car show, the aim of which was to raise money for the relief effort in the Philippines following the devastating typhoon. Walker was giving friends rides in his new Porshe GT when somehow the driver lost control, resulting in the death of Walker and an unidentified passenger.
It's unclear at this point whether or not Walker was actually driving. Details are scarce as the Los Angeles Coroner's Office investigates.
An actor since childhood, Walker appeared in TV shows such as Who's The Boss? and The Young and The Restless before landing his breakout role in the 1999 high school football drama Varsity Blues (following a noteworthy appearance in Gary Ross' Pleasantville). His role as FBI agent Brian O'Conner in 2001's The Fast and the Furious put him on the map.
Despite his charm and leading-man good looks, mainstream success outside of the blockbuster racecar/heist franchise largely eluded Walker. He turned in strong performances in films like director Wayne Cramer's Running Scared and Clint Eastwood's World War II drama Flags of Our Fathers, but other attempts to place Walker at the center of a tentpole - such as 2003's Timeline or 2010's Takers - misfired.
After appearing in 2 Fast 2 Furious, Walker sat out the third entry, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, but wound up returning for every other installment, culminating in the monster success of this year's (Fast and) Furious 6, which took in nearly $800 million worldwide.
The next chapter, Fast and Furious 7, is currently in production, with a projected release date of July 11, 2014. Tonight's sad news seemingly puts the future of the seventh film in the series up in the air. This is not the first time a main actor has perished before the completion of the film; Brandon Lee was famously killed during a prop gun malfunction during the making of The Crow and more recently, Heath Ledger died before he had completed filming his scenes for Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, requiring a complete rewrite of the story. Is something similar in store for Fast 7? We should know soon enough.
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. He was a passenger in a friend's car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. - #TeamPW
Paul Walker is survived by a daughter, Rebecca, and four siblings. All of us here at Screen Rant wish to express our deepest condolences at Mr. Walker's passing, and our hearts go out to his family, friends, and fans.
R.I.P. Paul Walker, September 12, 1973 - November 30, 2013