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Action Movie Star Paul Walker Dies In Crash


Actor Paul Walker has died. He was best known for his role in the "Fast & Furious" movie series. The 40-year-old actor was a passenger in a car that crashed in North Los Angeles. Walker was working on the seventh installment of the "Fast & Furious" series. And as NPR's Nathan Rott reports, he was also working on a life post-acting.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: The Paul Walker that you probably know was this one...


PAUL WALKER: (as Brian O'Conner) Too early, Dom.

ROTT: ...squinting from the driver's seat of a speeding car, music pulsing. As a star for "The Fast and the Furious" movie series, Walker was a fast action hero - racing cars, fighting drug dealers and talking trash.


WALKER: (as Brian O'Conner) At least we know you can't beat me straight up.

ROTT: But in real life, Walker was quieter. His friends and co-workers called him humble, grounded, even shy. When the fourth installment of "The Fast and the Furious" movies was coming out and the series was approaching a billion dollars in earnings, he appeared on the TV show "Ellen." The host, Ellen DeGeneres, chided him to speak up and to get a bigger piece of that pie.


ELLEN DEGENERES: Yeah. You're so shy.

WALKER: Negotiations are coming up, Ellen. You available?

DEGENERES: I would like to help you.

WALKER: All right. There you go.

DEGENERES: I'm going to help you talk to people in public and do that.

ROTT: Being in the public eye shouldn't have been much of a challenge for Walker. The California native had been in show business and modeling since he was 2. Walker, the oldest of five, said his mother started taking him to auditions as a toddler to help provide for the family. But as he got older, acting wasn't what he wanted to do at all. He wanted to be a marine biologist.

In an interview for the cologne company Davidoff Cool Water, for which he was a spokesperson, Walker said that the decision to start acting was one of necessity.


WALKER: The decision was more or less made for me. I was in a situation where I'd run out of funding basically for school. I was in my early 20s at that time, and I thought I'd make one movie and pay off my loans and go back and finish school, and it just hasn't stopped.

ROTT: He explained one of the main reasons it hasn't stopped in another interview for the cologne company.


WALKER: One job turned into two jobs, which I think turned into a third one. That was going to be the one that was going to set me up for school. I was 25 years old. I was leaving to go do that and I found out I was going to be a dad. And I was like, oh, thank God, I have this because I want to be able to, like, support my child and all that. Then I was really grateful. I was like, wow. So maybe school's going to wait for a little bit. Let's see what I can do here.

ROTT: Walker was still able to pursue his passion for marine biology. He spent much of his spare time diving and surfing. He dedicated the rest of his spare time and a good amount of his money to his charity organization, Reach Out Worldwide. It's a group that aids people that have been struck by natural disasters. The work brought Walker to Haiti, Alabama and Chile, and recently started gaining outside support and funding.


WALKER: It's just - it's exciting. It's exciting to know that there's a good chance that this is something that could potentially be around well after I leave this planet. It's a good feeling.

ROTT: Walker was, in fact, leaving a charity event for victims of Typhoon Haiyan when the crash occurred. He was the passenger. Nathan Rott, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.