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SXSW: 'Hours' Star Paul Walker on Finally Getting Serious About Acting and Driving Vin Diesel "F*cking Crazy"

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire March 19, 2013 at 5:08PM

Despite the massive worldwide success of the "Fast and the Furious" action series (the sixth installment comes out this summer), its headlining star Paul Walker hasn't emerged as a Hollywood star independent of the franchise. As he revealed to Indiewire at the recently wrapped SXSW Film Festival in Austin (he was there in support of his indie thriller "Hours"), much of that has to do with the fact he didn't want to become one in the first place. Now as a newly single father, Walker is set on changing that tune.
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"I think I’m just playing a little more now and I never wanted to before. To be honest with you I wanted it to all go away."

You’re having quite the year with so many films coming up. Do you feel like you’re experiencing a second coming of sorts?

No, I think I’m just playing a little more now and I never wanted to before. To be honest with you, I wanted it to all go away.

Why’s that?

I wanted to be a marine biologist.

I read you went to school for that.

Yeah, I always wanted to use it so I figured out ways to make that happen. I’ve got projects developing right now. Jean-Michel Cousteau, who’s the son of my idol Jacques Cousteau. We’re working together and I’m working with Michael Domeier. I’ve been doing shark research and we’ve been doing tidal stuff and more educational stuff with Jean-Michel, which is fun. We’re going to schools and talking with kids -- I get to have my kid with me, too.

Because of what I represent to certain people, because of what I’ve been labeled as in this world as an actor, it allows me just a little more access. Kids listen to me more. I could use that to my advantage. I fell in love with the ocean when I was just a little kid, four or five years old, I was a junior ranger, I was going out and doing intertidal stuff, walking around and sticking my finger in my first sea anemone and picking up starfish and all that. It gripped me when I was young. So Jean-Michel comes, he’s sort of like minded with that, like you get them young and hold them forever. So just taking more advantage of that and running with that mindset, it’s fun.

Is the reason you're busier than ever on the acting front because you're more secure in the other areas of your life/career?

To me, I have a daughter that’s 14 years old. I’ve always been more of a transient sort of dude, I’ve always gone with the energy and the way it takes me. And she’s living full time with me now; I’m a full-time single father as of this past fall. This opportunity’s been put in my lap so I want to seize it, I want to make it work. And if it isn’t exactly what I want then I want to figure out a way to make it that. So all this information I’m sharing with you and where I’ve been on this journey, that’s open conversation. I mean we talk about it all the time. She’s getting to a place now where she’s trying to figure out who she, what she is in this world, forming a sense of identity, trying to find her sense of purpose, her style and all this stuff. So I think it’s the more we talk about it, this is just kind of life’s path.

Everyone’s in a difference at different times, everyone learns in his or her own time whatever it is they’re supposed to learn and what’s supposed to be revealed to them. It’s cool, she gets it, she appreciates it. She’s here with me at the festival. She gets into it, she wants to go into environmental law right now. That’ll change next week. It’s a fun time for both of us and she’s a cool partner, she’s the best partner I’ve ever had.

I’m getting the sense that you embrace acting more now as a kind of artistic endeavor?

Yeah, I think it, you know there’s different challenges in it. It was never something I really wanted, I didn’t have to work for it. Do you really appreciate it when something’s just handed to you? It was handed to me at an early age and I realized that unless you really take control of it and own it, it’s always going to feel that way. Whether you’re coming in as a producer or just coming in as an actor, just bring what you can bring. Whether it’s just mindset, as a producer I feel that's a big part of what I bring into it. I’m a problem solver, I love people. The more complicated they are the more I get into them and I just want to understand what makes them tick.

Fast and Furious 6

I have a way of just being ice, and just cooling situations and making things work. It’s important to me. I’ve always taken it that way as an actor. I’m really sensitive too and it’s as important to me. Life’s too fucking short. What we’re doing is pretty cool, but let’s make sure we’re having fun doing it. And it’s important to me that people feel appreciated because that’s when you get the best in people. Give people ownership, give them the pat on the back, give them the kudos they deserve. It’s the same token if someone’s slacking, you know you can point it out to them, but there’s a constructive way of doing it, the right way to do it. And then there’s asshole way of doing it.

I pride myself on -- I like being that person, I like that I have that mindset. Eric and I we’re going to work together again. Peter Safran, we did “Vehicle 19” together and we have the same code, the same ethics when it comes to the way we handle business, the way that we treat people. It’s really important to me. In any industry where there’s a lot of money to be made, those people are hard to find because there’s a lot of elbows and it’s ‘Me me me me me.’ When you find people that have the mindset ‘No it’s us, it’s the team,’ that’s refreshing.

Is it that sense of teamsmanship that keeps bringing you back to the "Fast and the Furious" movies?

"The Fast" is tough, it’s not easy. It represents too much to too many people. But that’s what also makes it fun. We have people that come from very different walks of life, Vin [Diesel] and I in particular, you know East Coast, just different mentality, different mindset, different childhoods. And so I don’t speak his language, he doesn’t speak mine, but we do complement one another. There’s times where I drive him fucking crazy and he drives me nuts, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s like there’s always been a respect.


This article is related to: South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW), Paul Walker, Hours, Interviews





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