My Short (But Memorable) Encounter With “Fast and Furious” Star, Paul Walker – R.I.P.
Like many of you I was recently saddened by actor Paul Walker’s untimely death. It was way too soon and sudden. While I didn’t personally know him, I did get to very briefly meet him and in that brief encounter he unexpectedly taught me a little showbiz lesson that I never forgot, so I wanted to share that personal story here as my tribute to Paul and his fans:
Working as a P.A. on my very first day on the first Fast and Furious movie (then called “Red Line”) my job was to guard the lunch tent so no extras came in. I was only supposed to let people in that had a certain wristband. And after turning away a stray few extras to the hot dog tent, all was going well… for about 20 minutes. Being the ever-so-vigilant and eager P.A. I was, I stop this young “golden boy” type in leather pants trying to stroll past me without a wristband. “You got a wristband, man?”
He looked down in disbelief and yelled at me, “I’m the friggin’ star of the movie!” …Of course, it was Paul Walker.
Needless to say, I quickly became distraught and felt like a complete idiot. Here I was, the lowliest peon on set- on my first gig on a big Hollywood movie – at a time when I was broke as hell and really needed the money – and I’ve somehow accidentally managed to commit the deadly Hollywood sin of being an underling who harassed and pissed off talent and appears completely clueless… and it was only my first few hours on set!
As he walked away, I wondered how long it would be before I was fired (or at least publicly berated by the A.D.). Instead, he came back a few minutes later and apologized TO ME for getting snippy – even though I was clearly the clueless one and even though he could’ve easily had my ass bounced off that set on the spot. It was not was I was expecting.
I honestly didn’t know who he was at the time, but as he walked away I knew he was a CLASS ACT and he had just showed me a good example of how to treat others under you – even after you make it big – even if you don’t have to… with respect and understanding.
So ‘nuff respect back to Paul Walker, who by all accounts, seemed to be warm and decent man in an often harsh industry where there is a shortage of such humanity.
R.I.P. Paul. We’ll miss you, man.
*Fans that wish to express their condolences, should make a donation to Paul’s Charity Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW).
(Photo: A much younger me on the set of “The Fast and Furious” posing with some of the extras. – And, no, I didn’t let them into the good food tent either!)