Paul Walker tragically died on Saturday in a car accident and though he may be best known for playing Brian O’Conner in the Fast & Furious film franchise, the 40-year-old movie star had been building his resume for more than 25 years, growing from ’80s child actor to ’90s heartthrob to a full-fledged action star. Below, look back on the roles that we’ll always remember Walker for.
1. Monster In The Closet (1986)
Walker made his film debut in this 1986 slasher-comedy, which also starred veteran actors Howard Duff and John Carradine. In addition to Walker as the bespectacled “Professor” Bennett, the movie also starred a young, pigtailed Fergie, even before her Kids Incorporated days. And in the years that followed Monster, Walker guest starred on many beloved television programs, like Charles in Charge, Who’s the Boss?, and The Young and the Restless
2. Pleasantville (1998)
Walker reemerged as a Hollywood heartthrob and the object of Jennifer’s (Reese Witherspoon) affection in this drama set within a wholesome black-and-white 1950s sitcom, not too long after his tenure on television ended. After Jennifer took Walker’s Skip out on their first not-so-PG date, the first pop of color sprouted up in the titular town with a single red rose.
3. Varsity Blues (1999)
Though Skip was a basketball player, Varsity Blues was Walker’s first foray into big screen quarterback stardom. The actor played Lance Harbor, the captain and star of the West Canaan Coyotes football team until he got injured, leaving room for Johnny Moxon (James Van Der Beek) to take over not only his spot on the team, but his position as the boyfriend of cheerleading captain Darcy Sears (Ali Larter). (No offense to the Beek, but nothing compares to that smile above.) “Doin’ Varsity Blues and goin’ back to high school was dope,” the actor told IGN in 2001. “That was a blast. I mean I loved it. I didn’t have a prom and I got to play the meathead jock that I hated in high school … I know exactly who I was when I was makin’ that movie.”
4. She’s All That (1999)
Walker further solidified his position as a bona fide Bop magazine centerfold with this romantic teen comedy. As Dean Sampson Jr., Walker continued to play a “meathead” as the guy who bet Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.) that he couldn’t turn Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook) into prime prom queen material. Of course, Dean went on to ruin the bet and tried to take advantage of Laney in a motel room, but Walker remained in teenage girls’ good graces.
5. The Skulls (2000)
Walker returned to his horror roots nearly 15 years after his Monster in the Closet debut with this psychological thriller that centered on the conspiracy theories surrounding Yale’s Skull and Bones student society. Though the movie, which co-starred Joshua Jackson and Leslie Bibb, was critically panned, it was still a hit amongst many girls who grew up in the ’90s. (See Exhibit A above.)
6. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
In 2001, Walker won the role that launched his career into leading-man status. He played undercover LAPD officer Brian O’Conner, who infiltrated the local street racing scene. It’s a role he’s taken on for more than a decade and fans are expected to see Walker as O’Conner one last time in Fast & Furious 7. “I love doing action. I love it. It’s so much fun,” Walker told Hollywood.com at the time the first film came out. “I want to be as involved in it as possible. It’s either [you’re] sitting around and watching someone else do it, or doing it yourself; I’d rather be doing it myself.”
7. Joy Ride (2001)
Despite its name, Joy Ride had nothing to do with any Fast & Furious fare. After his freshman year of college, Lewis (Walker), his crush Venna (Leelee Sobieski), and his brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) head home for summer break, but they take a detour when a prank involving a truck driver a goes awry. The film, co-written by J.J. Abrams, forever changed the way we looked at candy canes.
8. Into the Blue (2005)
As the Fast & Furious films continued to roll out in theaters, Walker brought his high-speed acting skills to the Bahamas-set action movie, co-starring Jessica Alba, Scott Caan, Tyson Beckford, and Josh Brolin.
9. Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
This war film directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood, was a change of pace for Walker. The actor played Sgt. Hank Hansen of the United States Marine Corps, which was based on the book of the same name about the six men who raised the American flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in World War II.
10. Hours (2013)
One of his final films released before his death, this Hurricane Katrina-centric thriller starred Walker as Nolan, the father of a newborn girl facing a life-or-death situation inside a hospital in the midst of the devastating 2005 storm. The movie, which debuted at the SXSW Film festival earlier this year, was a “passion project” for Walker. “It was something I just connected with,” he told Indiewire in March. “I felt like it was pure … I’m always doing the big action thing, running around and being cool guy, which is fun from time to time. It was nice just being honest and tell things from the heart.”