A. Be dead in five minutes after your cover was blown?
B. Be dead in six minutes after your cover was blown?
C. Successfully infiltrate the gang, earn the respect and admiration of their leader, allow him to escape from police capture because you knew he could never live in a cage, rejoin his gang years down the road, impregnate his sister, successfully spring the leader of the gang from a bus taking him to a federal penitentiary, help him to rob a notorious criminal in Brazil, earn $11 million for yourself, birth an adorable child while on the lam, then befriend the FUCKING ROCK and help him track down a street gang in Europe.
We like to assume ourselves are pretty badass, but deep down, we know the answer is A or B.
For Paul Walker, it was C.
. . .
Normally, I would say it's idiotic to factor the roles a person plays into how we view them as a person. Michael Fassbender has recently played some terrible villians, but by all accounts is one of the nicest people in Hollywood. But, somehow, there is no way to disassociate Paul Walker from who he was on screen, because to us, his characters were so perfectly and quintessentially Bro. Because every role Walker undertook was someone we wished we we got to be.
When he first came into the national consciousness, it was as All-American Lance Harbor, starting quarterback of West Canaan High, only the greatest football team West Texas has ever seen. Harbor already had a full ride to Florida State (Walker was the original Jason Street). Who among us didn't grow up dreaming of that, slinging passes, winning state and afterward getting to do whatever we wanted with the school's hottest cheerleader. All while drinking beer.
It was an identity we wanted as kids and teens. Really, it was who we were supposed to be. The ideal. We knew it couldn't happen, but that's why watching Walker was a sort of wonderful dream. If only. We would be just that way if it happened to us.
Only two years later, he became forever linked to the role of Brian O'Conner, LAPD officer tasked with bringing down a bunch of ruthless, violent criminals. And for as clean-cut as Walker looked in that first movie, along the way it was clear he had a mean streak. We learned he was an independent man, not afraid to do what was right for the sake of what was legal. Who among us wouldn't want to have the guts to live with our own such moral code? To go to jail for a friend if we had to.
We got to watch in five movies as Walker did the things we could only dream about: shoot big guns, rob big banks, race fast cars and put back Coronas with Vin Diesel. He was ruthless and, yet, still always thought of as the good guy.
Walker went toe-to-toe with the Rock, married Jordana Brewster and made fun of Ludacris. God, you've wanted to make fun of little-ass Ludacris. But you don't have the balls. Paul Walker did, calling him on his shit while chillin' with Tyrese.
So it's a shame Walker is gone, because he always embodied who we wanted to be. None of us will ever be as big and as muscular and as fast as the biggest action stars on the planet, no matter what we do. No matter how hard we try. The same was true of Walker. So he did it with his personality alone, the cool guy who was able to run for years with the baddest motherfuckers alive. The Bro we all wished we could be.