An actor leaving us too soon is always a tragedy. But even with his short career, Paul Walker had enough time to forge a wonderful legacy for his fans to enjoy after his sad passing in 2013.
From leading men to supporting characters, Paul has done it all, proving that he was a terrific actor who could take on a variety of roles and steal the screen every damn time.
Here are 15 of Paul Walker’s best movie roles and performances ranked – you’d be mad not to watch them all!
15. Pleasantville (1998)
A long time ago, a baby-faced Paul Walker played in the comedy drama Pleasantville, a movie where two siblings (Reese Witherspoon and Toby Maguire) find themselves trapped in their favorite black and white TV show and live in a perfect town inhabited by perfect people.
In this fun and heartwarming film, Paul plays Reese’s love’s interest Skip, a handsome, perfectly stereotypical and ever-smiling high school heartthrob. Paul went on to play far more complex roles after this, but it says a lot about an actor’s skills when they can make even a shallow character memorable.
14. Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
Role: Hank Hansen
In this war film directed by the legendary Clint Eastwood, Paul dives into the more somber role of Sergeant Hank Hansen, one of the four men who raised the American flag at Iwo Jima during the Second World War.
Although many remember him for his roles in the Fast & Furious movie franchise, Paul proves here that he can also do the gritty, serious stuff. And convincingly so.
13. The Skulls (2000)
Role: Caleb Mandrake
Always eager to try new things, Paul Walker appears in the thriller horror film The Skulls, playing Caleb Mandrake, a young man who joins a selective and mysterious elite society that can grant any wish…at a dangerous price.
The film isn’t exactly a hit, but the script is more to blame than Paul, who clearly gives it everything he has. Viewers will also find that seeing the actor shirtless is enough reason to go through the whole thing.
12. Noel (2004)
Role: Mike Riley
Few remember this 2004 Christmas movie where Paul played a young man brought closer to his destiny by the magic of the holidays. Alongside four other strangers who also try to find their own miracle, his character splits with his girlfriend and tries to figure out what love is during the most special time of the year.
This traditional and heartwarming Christmas film isn’t exactly original, but as always, Paul is perfect for the role as a charming heartthrob, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
11. Brick Mansions (2014)
Role: Damien Collier
In this posthumous release, Paul plays an undercover cop who lives in a walled-up, dangerous Detroit and attempts to bring his father’s killer to justice.
Paul is right in his element in this action film packed with thrills and incredible stunts, and although his character feels a little bit like a ‘déjà vu’, seeing him fight and run after baddies never really gets old.
10. Monster in the Closet (1986)
Role: ‘Professor’ Bennett
This 1980s horror comedy follows a scientist and a reporter who investigate a series of murders taking place in closets.
You’ll probably find yourself “awing” as soon you lay eyes on the adorable little Paul Walker, aged just 13 in this role. Although he was just a tween, it was clear Paul already had that “it factor” that was soon to make him a star.
9. The Lazarus Project (2008)
Role: Ben Garvey
In this gripping thriller, Paul plays a reformed criminal who ends up on death row after a heist-gone-wrong that was supposed to be his last. But instead of getting a death sentence, Paul’s remorseful character ends up working at a mysterious psychiatric ward that could either be a second chance, or a nightmare worse than death.
Once again Walker is surprising in this darker movie role, playing a good man trapped in the wrong life.
8. Furious 7 (2015)
Role: Brian O’Conner
Paul died halfway through shooting the seventh chapter of this mega movie series, a tragedy that struck the cast and crew as well as fans worldwide. Although the franchise’s fate was uncertain at the time of his death, the movie still managed to give him a beautiful farewell and also became one of the most successful films in the world.
Dominic (Vin Diesel) says goodbye to Brian (Paul) before their cars part ways, making it obvious that this is both the character and the actor bidding him farewell. We’re still crying listening to See You Again and we bet you are, too.
7. Joy Ride (2001)
Paul hasn’t done many thrillers, but those that he did star in were rarely bad. Joy Ride tells the harrowing story of teenagers who make fun of a trucker and unfortunately discover that he is a psychopathic killer.
It’s clear by now that Paul is great at playing teenagers and leading men like he was born to do so, and Joy Ride is no exception.
6. Running Scared (2006)
Role: Joey Gazelle
There’s a certain chemistry between Paul and thrillers that becomes more and more apparent as you scroll through his filmography. In this 2006 film, Walker plays a mafia minion tasked to get rid of the firearms that killed two policemen. But a young boy finds one of the guns and runs away with it, leading Paul’s character to chase him desperately through New Jersey’s darkest alleys.
You may start to wonder whether Paul has ever played a character who doesn’t wield a gun, but either way, his devotion to the role is obvious and well worth the ride!
5. Into the Blue (2005)
In this film chock-full of thrills that will keep you at the edge of your seat, Paul plays a young man who, alongside his girlfriend and two other friends, finds a dangerous amount of cocaine while searching for sunken treasure. The discovery leads him and his pals into dangerous waters – pun fully intended – when a drug kingpin tries to get his hands on their loot.
Once more, Paul easily takes on the leading man hat and it’s difficult to see anything wrong with this clean-cut performance.
4. She’s All That (1999)
Role: Dean Sampson
It’s difficult to forget Paul’s iconic character in the 90’s romance flick, She’s All That.
Paul wasn’t the star of this cult classic and actually played the jerk who encourages the main character to seduce the high school’s ‘weird girl’ for a bet. Paul’s charisma and good looks in this movie however, mean that it’s almost difficult to hate him as much as the script wants us to.
3. Eight Below (2006)
Role: Jerry Shepard
If you make it halfway through this heartwarming movie without shedding puddles of tears, you’re officially made of stone. There’s a lot to like in this inspiring, beautifully shot movie about a guide trying to rescue his sled dogs from a blizzard.
Although Paul’s work is as astounding as always, we can’t imagine it was too difficult to pretend to fall in love with that many dogs.
2. Hours (2013)
Role: Nolan Hayes
One of the last films Paul played in before passing was also one of his most profound roles. In this movie about the devastating consequences of Hurricane Katrina, he plays a man stuck in New Orleans who battles to protect his prematurely born daughter throughout the disaster.
As always, Paul proves that he is made to play the leading man with a heart of gold – an opportunity to show his principles in real life and what kind of people he wanted to portray on screen. On this project, Paul told Collider, “I was intimidated by the script. I read it and I was like “Wow, this is really honest. It’s really truthful. You have to not be human for this not to touch you.”
1. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Role: Brian O’Conner
It’s impossible to forget Paul’s first appearance as Brian Connor in the acclaimed, everlasting film The Fast and the Furious. The late actor plays a special agent turned desperado whom Vin Diesel’s character Dominic takes under his wing as a newbie in the street racing game.
We won’t lie, the franchise doesn’t exactly demand Oscar-levels of acting, and it has somewhat overshadowed the rest of his work, but just by looking at Paul’s dedication to the role, it’s obvious how much fun he had and how much he loved his character until the end. That is precisely why fans will never forget him.
Here you have it! 15 of Paul Walker’s greatest movies and performances. Although Paul tragically passed away seven years ago, his best roles will live on in the heart of fans, and will probably entertain many generations to come.
So, if your friends ever want to binge all of his movies, make sure to show them this list, and don’t hesitate to add your own suggestions in the comments below…