Much of the media coverage of the life of Paul Walker, who died tragically this past weekend at age 40, has focused on his successful film career. A rare celebrity who even the gossip-obsessed never heard a bad word about , Walker was beloved by his colleagues. However, he once noted that “I’m an actor, that’s my job but it’s not my life”. Indeed, few know that in addition to being a talented actor, he had another side.
He was also a philanthropist, founding “Reach Out Worldwide” in 2010 after a trip to Haiti. Walker was attending a Reach Out Worldwide event focusing on raising money for typhoon Haiyan relief when he died.
He was also a vocal advocate for marine science and conservation. He even described himself in his twitter profile, with which he discussed sharks and their conservation, with the words “outdoorsman, ocean addict, adrenaline junkie… and I do some acting on the side.”
Paul Walker’s lifelong idol was Jacques Cousteau, and he majored in marine biology in college. Entertainment Weekly noted that when he spoke about the ocean, Walker had a “giddy passion” in his voice. Though his life went in a different direction, his first career choice was always to study the ocean, and he noted in a 2011 interview that “the passion for marine biology is still there.”
Walker was able to use his fame to help the ocean and to follow his lifelong dreams. In addition to serving on the board of the Billfish Foundation since 2006, Walker aided researcher Dr. Michael Domeier in his efforts to study great white sharks. This was chronicled in the National Geographic TV show “Shark Men,” as well as the 2013 Shark Week special “Spawn of Jaws.” Walker also appeared in a shark conservation PSA during Shark Week 2013. He had the opportunity to name one of Dr. Domeier’s study animals, and he named it after his daughter.
Rest in peace, ocean addict. You will be missed.
I met Paul at a party in Hawaii several years ago. He was very down to earth and seemed like a nice guy. I had invited him to come tiger shark tagging and he was really excited to come out with us. He left a few weeks later to tag the white sharks with Mike, and I left Hawaii shortly after that so i never managed to take him along. Very sad that he is gone.