In the wake of tonight’s announcement that Fast and the Furious costar Paul Walker was killed this afternoon in a car crash in Valencia, I tried to get in touch with Wayne Kramer and Rob Cohen, two directors I know slightly who directed Walker in the two critically respectable films he made over his nearly 30-year career as an actor. But the email addresses and phone numbers I have for both are out of date. It’s been a few years since I’ve spoken to them. Sympathy and condolences, gentlemen, if you’re reading this. Obviously a terrible thing to handle.
(l.) The late Paul Walker; (r.) the late Roger Rodas.
Photo of Rodas’s destroyed and burned Porsche Carrera, initially posted by Perez Hilton.
Kramer directed, wrote and produced Running Scared (’06), which Walker was the sole star of and which was probably his best-ever film. Cohen directed the original The Fast and the Furious (’01), which seemed to “recapture that old Sam Arkoff-ian, American International Pictures B-movie vibe,” I wrote in my Reel.com column.
I’m sure Kramer and Cohen are as devastated as Vin Diesel and everyone else who knew and worked with Walker. This is sad as hell, and ghastly to boot. Slamming into a pole at high speed and then being engulfed by flames…good God. A terrible and senseless way to die. Because the circumstances seem to indicate recklessness. They certainly don’t indicate moderation and restraint.
The Porsche Carrera that Walker died in was owned and was being driven by Walker’s friend, wealth management advisor and philanthropic partner Roger Rodas, who was also a former race-car driver. Rodas had a side business as the CEO of Always Evolving, a car customization shop in Santa Clarita. Walker and Rodas had raced cars together in the Pirelli World Challenge series, and “had decided to take Rodas’s rare Porsche Carrera GT from a car show at his building to the Reach Out Worldwide charity event in Los Angeles,” according to one report.
Rodas and Walker “had been friends and had been racing for several years before they began collaborating on Walker’s finances,” according to a web page for The Rodas Group, the Merrill-Lynch financial management company.
Walker’s Wiki page reports that “shortly after leaving in Rodas’ red Porsche Carrera GT, the driver (i.e., Rodas) lost control and crashed into a light pole and tree in Valencia, California and burst into flames.”
Take a look at the photo of Rodas’s demolished Porsche Carrera. It looks as completely obliterated as James Dean‘s Porsche Spyder did after the car crash that killed Dean in September 1955. Who loses control of a classic Porsche and turns it into a pile of mangled rubble in the middle of the afternoon in a sleepy Los Angeles suburb? Who slams a Porsche into a light pole and a tree at high speed? Someone who’s been driving outside the posted speed limit, I’d say. Is it disrespectful to note that all race-car enthusiasts are adrenalin junkies, and that these two were probably enjoying the juice a few seconds before they died?
That’s what car enthusiasts live for, no? Not to die, obviously, but, in their parlance and by the laws of their realm, to live to the fullest.
But even if they were speeding beyond any sense of rationality or restraint you would think that a former race-car driver would know how to handle a well-engineered car like a Porsche Carrera…aahh, the hell with it. The investigation will determine the circumstances and likely cause soon enough.