Allowing the Dust to Settle: Remembering Paul Walker and Was He to Become the Next Steve McQueen?

The Next "King of Cool?"

The Next "King of Cool?"

After taking a few months off and pondering about my next blog, I came across a startling headline-"... 'Fast and Furious' Star Killed in Fiery Crash." Being an automotive enthusiast and movie buff, my eyes opened like saucers as I began to read the horrid details. Immediately, my curiosity began to get the better of me and I delve deeper into the stories released in the days following this tragedy that (ironically) played out like a scene that only Hollywood could produce. Twitter was a flurry with death conspiracies and Reddit was filled with tasteless jokes. I knew I had to weigh in on this, but out of respect for all involved, I simply wanted to wait and chose my words wisely.

Regardless of what you may have thought of the Fast and Furious franchise (personally, I thought they were over produced and overly dramatic), Paul Walker was still a solid actor and by most accounts- a good human being. Like most celebrity A listers, Walker was involved with charitable organizations. Most notably was his close involvement with Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW), a charity that commits itself to providing relief to areas affected by natural disasters. Aside from being involved with relief efforts for ROWW (Yes, he actually went to Haiti and Chile to do physical work...not just take publicity photos.), several fans and co-stars shared stories of his kindness, light-hearted sense of humor, love for marine biology and his adventurous spirit. However, if someone were to judge Walker solely based on outward appearances and his connection with fast automobiles in his movies, one might begin to draw comparisons to another Hollywood actor who also left us way too soon; Steve McQueen (the actor...not the director).

The Original "King of Cool"

The Original "King of Cool"

On the surface, the comparisons are inevitable. Both men had sandy hair, piercing blue eyes, died way too young (40 and 50, respectively) and had a direct connection to the automobile based upon blockbuster movies for which they were cast. Aside from their talent behind the wheel on the silver screen, both men were avid motoring enthusiasts and professionally raced when they weren't in front of the camera. In fact, McQueen had the distinction of winning the 3-litre class in the 12 Hours of Sebring, whereas Walker competed in the Pirelli World Challenge with his good friend and professional racer, Roger Rodas (who was behind the wheel at the time of his fatal accident).

McQueen At Sebring

McQueen At Sebring

I will be honest that I do not take satisfaction in writing about celebrities who passed way before their time, but is was the similarities between the two actors that seemed to have gone unnoticed, that prompted me to ask the question: "Was Paul Walker to Become the Next Steve McQueen?" Granted, the undisputed "King of Cool" had personal demons that came in the forms of drug use, borderline alcoholism and chain smoking (which some blame for his untimely death), whereas Walker walked appeared to partake in a healthier (or so we know) way of  life. Setting personal issues aside, both actors appeared in 44 credited roles, experienced the glory of box office success and were no strangers to the front covers of magazines.

R.I.P Paul Walker & Roger Rodas

R.I.P Paul Walker & Roger Rodas

Still, for the purposes of this blog and the basis of my question stems from the obvious influence both men have had on the moviegoing, motorsport enthusiast. McQueen may have helped to set the standard for car chases in the movie "Bullitt" (click the link... its a great scene), but Walker gave a real NOS boost to your typical Hollywood-style chase in "The Fast and the Furious." Both movies spoke to a subculture of motorheads and allowed both actors to become the unofficial ambassadors for fast automobiles on the sliver screen. It is always sad to bid farewell, but the legacies left behind by both men will be infinite. We will miss you Steve, Paul and Roger.

What do you think? Was Paul Walker poised to become the next Steve McQueen? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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