Welcome to the ‘Paul Walker Haters Club.’ Care to join? Film credits like Timeline, Into the Blue, The Fast and the Furious, and The Skulls have already brought in millions of members nationwide. Don’t worry about membership requirements. You just have to despise Paul Walker for being an overstuffed, pretty boy surfer who couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag with a pair of scissors and a razor blade.
Actually, Paul Walker isn’t blind to the fact that people detest him or how he’s sometimes perceived. ‘I did the same thing growing up,’ Walker says. ‘I couldn’t stand Keanu Reeves or Christian Slater because all the girls had crushes on them. Even if I liked them, I hated them,’ he adds. ‘After The Fast and the Furious, I did pretty well with minorities. I had Latino and black guys liking me. White guys hate me.’
I don’t think jealousy is the founding reason for the Haters Club, but it plays a part, no doubt. I hang with a lot of celebrities, and most of them don’t look as good in person as they do on camera. Paul Walker is an exception. In person, he’s one of the most attractive people on the face of the planet. And no, I’m not gay, bi, or transgender. I am recognizing the fact that the dude is more attractive than most other people on the planet. I am Blake, and I am straight. Okay?
But, just because he poses major competition in the chick world isn’t a legitimate reason for guys to join the ‘Haters Club.’ So, we can already cut 50 percent of the membership for lack of justification. Still, there’s 50 percent who refuse to take him seriously as an actor, and the only way to prove that he’s worth an iota of screen time would be for him to appear in a serious, hard-edged adult film instead of the Into the Blue or Fast and the Furious teeny bopper crap.
Running Scared – now on DVD – is a serious, adult action movie unlike Walker’s previous appearances. Whether you like him or hate him, you have to give him credit for stepping outside of his box and exploring a different, edgier genre. ‘These types of movies are a guilty pleasure for me,’ he says. ‘I enjoy the intensity; I enjoy the hell out of it. It’s like playing cops and robbers, except this is an adult version. It’s big kid cops and robbers.’
In the film, Walker plays Joey, a family man who juggles a wife (Vera Farminga), son (Cameron Bright), and his involvement with the Italian mafia in New Jersey. After a drug deal goes bad, the mob orders Joey to dispose of a gun used in the fatal shooting of a corrupt cop. Unfortunately, the gun falls into the wrong hands. Now, he’s in a race against time to find the weapon before the mob discovers his life-threatening mistake.
The title comes from Joey literally running scared through the entire movie. This was one hell of a physically demanding project-a testament to Walker’s commitment, he admits: ‘I’ve never had a job affect my personal life this much,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t relax. I was wired all night. I’d take it home with me and couldn’t turn it off. A girlfriend came to visit during filming. She was supposed to stay for two weeks, but she stayed for four days. She said I was too intense.’
We can’t accuse Paul Walker for not taking risks anymore, so I’m knocking off another 20 percent from the Haters Club membership. Sorry, folks. This project invalidates your case against him. I hereby declare that only 30 percent of the membership is active and in good standing.
It’s no secret that Walker is great with kids. He has a 7-year-old daughter with an ex-girlfriend. ‘I try to do the whole bake- sales-and-school-events thing when I’m in Hawaii. She lives there,’ he says. ‘We often surf together. It’s so much fun.’
It is one thing to surf with your daughter, hang out with kids and work with them in movies like Eight Below – Walker’s recent family film. It’s a whole different ball game when you’re working with kids on an adult movie.
Running Scared features two child actors in leading roles, Godsend‘s Cameron Bright and newcomer Alex Neuberger. Both 12-years-old, these kids appear in scenes that present extreme profanity, drug abuse, domestic violence, prostitution, hatred, copious amount of blood, guts, and brain matter and don’t forget the child pornography. Let’s just say I sure as hell wouldn’t let my kid anywhere near this movie!
‘It was uncomfortable,’ Walker says. ‘Parents have a really hard time keeping their kids normal when they’re pulling them out of school to make movies. They’re forced to grow up entirely too fast, and they’re taken entirely too seriously. It’s important for me to make sure [the co-stars’] parents understand that I know what’s going on. It gave me peace of mind to apologize to them for [things] like swearing so much. The language is terrible.’
As an actor myself, I would have been nervous about working with these children while they were being exposed to the extreme material. Walker, though, claims to have kept communication open with the children, and to have treated them with respect. ‘Towards the end, these kids were like my boys,’ Walker says. ‘I like working with kids a lot – I think it has to do with the fact that I come from a big family. I still keep in contact with both of them, especially Alex.’
Because the guy is so great with the youngsters, I’m officially cutting the remaining membership roster of the Haters Club in half. How can you hate a dude with this much heart and compassion? Only 15 percent of the membership remains. I guess people (including myself) may have judged Mr. Walker before they bothered to learn more about him.
Well, I guess Paul Walker has to have at least some acting talent to land a supporting role in a Clint Eastwood movie. Eastwood is known for being pretty specific. He would have had to see something in Walker to cast him as Sergeant Hank Hansen in Flags of our Fathers — a WWII drama profiling the life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima-due in theaters later this year.
‘Clint does it right,’ Walker says. ‘Maybe it’s taken him a long time to figure it out. Everything just gels and flows smoothly. It feels like a family unit. There is a lot of respect on his set.’ But one time, says Walker, ‘He questioned me. I was supposed to say the line, This place stinks.’ I said it under my breath you can barely hear me. He asked why I said it quietly, and I said, I don’t think Hansen is a Robert Duvall or Tom Sizemore.’ He laughed and said cool.’
Despite the prestige of working with Eastwood, it’s still to be decided whether the remaining 15 percent of the in-good-standing members of the Haters Club will continue disliking Walker after seeing Running Scared, or if they will develop a newfound respect for him for taking artistic risks and proving his ability to work with actors of all ages and directors of various talents. I expected Walker to be arrogant, unintelligent, and way overconfident in person. But he isn’t – not at all. In person, he’s humble, kind, and appreciative; one of the most down to earth celebrities I’ve met. That’s it.
Moral of the story: Don’t judge a book by its cover; you never know what it’s about until you open it and read further. After years of disliking Walker for preconceived notions, I officially eat my
words. Paul Walker is not that bad of a guy.