Heavy.com was on-set in London for the filming of Fast & Furious 6, and this week we're bringing you exclusive articles and photos to get you amped for the Memorial Day launch of the most epic installment in the high-adrenaline Fast & Furious franchise. Get more of your Fast 6 fix here.
Paul Walker was a relative unknown when The Fast and the Furious premiered in 2001. "I was just a little kid. I’d done a couple other movies," he said. "I wanted to be an undercover cop or I wanted to be a race car driver. ... [Neil Moretz, producer] came to me with a newspaper article about street racing in L.A., and I went to the street races all the time." Fast forward 12 years, six movies and a host of new friendships later and we find Walker in a completely different place.
He and costar Vin Diesel have grown so close, in fact, that Walker had a significant bearing on Vin's involvement in the birth of his own child.
“One of the real moments for me was when he found out his wife was going into labor, and he still hadn't decided whether he was gonna be in the room when the baby was born," Paul told us. "He was afraid he was gonna be traumatized for life if he saw IT come out of THERE.
"So I remember being there and seeing the whole thing and the hair and everything, the baby coming out, and I said ‘Vin, it’s so alien-looking when the baby’s coming out of that thing you don’t even recognize it so don’t worry about it.’ He went in and he came back and told me, ‘I’m so glad I listened to you and we had that conversation.’ And I didn't honestly know how much of that was true, how much it really made a difference. But then his mother was here and said ‘Vin says you’re the reason why he was in the room.'"
Walker says that Diesel doesn't open up to everyone, but he's glad that he did in their case. “He’s a poker player. He plays his cards really close to his chest. He only reveals what he wants you to see. So I know him pretty well. ....
"Vin and I are very different," he continued. "I really like Vin's heart. The thing that’s cool is knowing that not many people get that access. His life wasn't easy when he was a kid. He’s a tough code to crack. But I feel like [on] this one, we’re really hitting our stride together."
The two have had quite a ride together for more than a decade with the franchise, and they share a great deal of mutual respect. "Not that we've grown up together, but we've spent basically our entire professional careers together. In terms of the ride, nobody better understands it than he does, and he feels the same way about me."
Walker's character in the films, Brian O'Conner, has also changed a great deal since we met him. One of the most significant changes is that he's now a father as well. "Brian realized in the first one that he’d found something that he’d always kind of been looking for," he said. "...His life was kind of f*cked up when he was a kid. He didn't really have a relationship with his father. So that’s what Dominic Toretto serves to him, it’s kind of like a big brother/father."
In Fast Five, Brian wasn't yet a father, but he thinks that having the child would be a stabilizing force in his life. "...I think that in No. 5 you finally see Brian in a place where he’s content. He’s like ‘I got my brother/father in Dom, and I got the chick, and now we’re having a baby and this is awesome, but because of his missteps and by playing the good guy role he’s screwed a lot of things up along the way. He’s been manipulated and he’s been played without even knowing it."
Walker views Brian as someone who's just trying to get by and figure it all out. "I think Brian’s in a place right now where he’s got everything that he wants," he said. "This time around I think Brian’s in a place where he’s just trying to pull it all together. He’s got egg on his face again in this one. And he’s just trying to make sense of the whole thing. He feels even more guilty and more desperate, just trying to make everything right for everyone. I mean he’s screwed everything up for these people, but he’s always forgiven. He just wants to make sure that he does right, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make things good for everyone."
When Walker signed on to do the first film, the point he's at now must have seemed pretty far off, if not unrealistic. Now that he's here, the prevailing sentiment is mostly positive, even if there are some caveats. "...We opened up really big, and nobody would have thought. Especially wouldn't have thought I’d be back here doing the same sh*t in 2012. But, it’s cool. It’s allowed me a lot of freedom. I've been able to do virtually whatever I want, he said. "It’s been a blessing and a curse in a sense, though, where it’s allowed me to be lazy in this arena. But I think that it’s also a good thing, because it allowed me the time to go and figure out who I was as opposed to my head just always spinning, chasing the carrot, trying to live up to whatever it is."
On the set, the cast obviously plays around with some awesome automobiles. Of his favorite one thus far, Walker said, "I really like the Ford Escort Cosworth I’m driving in this one. The rally car. Late 60s early 70s vintage. It’s really revered here. It was a real killer in the rally circuit back in the day. It wasn’t one that I was really hip to, but I fell in love with that car on the set."
He continued, “It’s funny because I don’t know how well it will be received. It’s like Smurf blue. It doesn’t really look that cool, but that’s what makes it so cool."
What some fans might not realize is that Walker doesn't just act like an auto aficionado — he actually is one. He has a dealer's license and owns an auto parts company, and he attributes his love of cars to his grandfather having been a race car driver. "I tinker with [the cars] a lot. It's cathartic," he said.