On the Anniversary of His Death at Just 40, a Loving Tribute to the Movie Heartthrob Who Began His Career on Young & Restless: ‘He Was Just So Unpretentious’
Universal Pictures International/Courtesy of the Everett Collection
Seven years later, Paul Walker’s passing remains as hard to wrap our heads around as it was in 2013.
From the sounds of it, Paul Walker was having a pretty good day on November 30, 2013. By then, 20 years had passed since he’d made his daytime debut as Brandon Collins, the teenage dreamboat to whom Victoria Newman wouldn’t give the time of day. The 40-year-old was not only a movie star, boasting a resumé that went from thrillers such as Joy Ride to blue-chip films like Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers, he was central to the hit The Fast and the Furious franchise; at the time, he was working on the seventh movie in the series.
But that all changed at about 3:30 in the afternoon. After leaving an event for his charity — Reach Out Worldwide, which sought to provide aid to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda — Walker was involved in an accident with his friend Roger Rodas, who drove his sports car into a lamp post and two trees. So horrific was the incident that it left both of their bodies burned beyond recognition.
The world, understandably, was devastated. Walker hadn’t just been a modern-day matinee idol, he’d been a hell of an actor and, on top of that, one who had seemed like an innately decent fellow. Actually, he hadn’t just seemed innately decent; as Eric Braeden told KCAL9 in Los Angeles in 2013, what you saw was what you got with Walker.
The two had worked together twice. The first time was during Walker’s short Young & Restless’ stint, when Victor’s daughter (then Heather Tom, now Katie on The Bold and the Beautiful) was so besotted with older man Ryan McNeil that she hardly noticed that oceans were envious of the blue of Brandon’s eyes. (Check out the then-newbie below, tearing Scott Reeves a new one).
Braeden and Walker then re-teamed as father and son in the 1998 comedy Meet the Deedles, with Steve Van Wormer (below) as Walker’s brother. The up-and-comer “was just so unpretentious,” Braeden told the CBS affiliate. “An easy-going, Southern California guy.
“I’ve worked with quite a few young people over the years,” he added. “But I had a feeling that he would make it on the big screen. You find very few actors with his basic honesty or sincerity.”
On this sad occasion, maybe you can perk yourself back up by perusing the below photo gallery of The Young and the Restless through the years in honor of the show’s 12,000th episode. Say, while you’re here, maybe you can also tell us WTH that is on Braeden’s shoulder above? A squirrel in sunglasses? A ferret that got lei’d? We legit have no idea and have been majorly fixated on it to keep this article from leaving us depressed.