This Walker is quite a talker!

- Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent -
"I was so pissed! I didn’t even think Disney was capable of pulling off something like that," he started. "They haven’t even seen Into the Blue yet, they just heard about it and they’re like ‘Oh, this guy is running around without a shirt, we can throw that into the movie also,’ and I was there for about a week and a half without knowing about it and then I see the rewrite and they say, ‘Oh yeah, we want you to be half-naked while running out into the cold from the freakin’ sauna’, and I said ‘Oh yeah?’"

Paul Walker was not exactly mad when he recounted the incident. The scene in question belongs to Disney’s newest release, Eight Below, a film based on an extraordinary true story of a pack of stranded snow dogs in the icy and stormy Antarctica and their exhilarating tale of survival.

He went on to finish his story. "I was so heated and I still want to show respect to everyone but I wanted everybody to know that I knew this was calculated so I went to see Frank Marshall (the director) and I said, ‘Look, what is this?’ and he said to me, ‘No, that caught me by surprise, too. And I didn’t really like it. But you know what? It does make sense to see the guy running around naked." He burst into laughter at this point and conceded, "The guy just knows how to put it."

When told that he can blame his good looks for it, he just flashed his ever-accessible smile.

"It’s great, man. I got girlfriends," he joked. "I got to make movies. It’s not that bad, but when people ask me questions like that, that’s awkward. I try not to think about it too much."

Walker met with this writer recently in Los Angeles to promote Eight Below. The actor was in high spirits and, surprisingly, was quite a talker.

In the movie, he plays Jerry Shepard, an Antarctic survival guide forced to face the brute force of Antarctic winter to save his loyal guide dogs which were left stranded after a fierce snow storm.

The film is an odd choice for the hunky actor whose recent film credits run the array of action adventures like the two installments of Fast and the Furious, the adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Timeline and the treasure heist Into the Blue with Jessica Alba.

"My mom prays a lot, and one time after seeing the trailer of Running Scared (a thriller he did just before Eight Below) she said, ‘You know it will be great if you can make a movie for the kids.’ And two weeks after, I got this offer from Disney!" he shares.

He also welcomed the chance to work on a family movie to please another great fan – his seven-year old daughter, Meadow, who would scream whenever she sees her dad on TV or on the movie screen.

"She once saw Narnia and the trailer before it showed Eight Below and her mom called me because Meadow was screaming," he beamed.

Another reason was that he would be working, among others, with a cast of talented canine actors. The 6’3" actor has a fondness for dogs ever since he was a kid growing up in Glendale, California.

"From the time I was a little kid, I always had dogs," he said. In Into the Blue, he worked with his real-life dog Zero. He also owns a Labrador, a Chesapeake Bay puppy and a horse named Cowboy.

When the story of the Japanese explorers and their loyal dogs was initially pitched to the actor, the character he was to play was described as someone with commitment issues and it drove him into a fit of laughter.

"Jerry is like me in a lot of ways. I run around, I do the press and do all this stuff and I just want to get the hell out of here. But I think he’s got more issues than I do," he laughs.

"The last year has been a matter of me skipping and getting away from a lot of things," he said. "I was so bummed that I drowned myself in work. (After falling out with a girl after filming of Into the Blue ended in the Bahamas.)

On commitment issues, the actor shares this lengthy explanation: "If you don’t want to take a chance, why take it? I don’t want to take a chance for fear that I may make a bad decision. I hate that about me but that’s the way how I am. I feel like sometimes I am living in fear. But when it comes to people and things you really care about, you make the decisions without realizing it. You just feel that it has to be done, without questioning your better judgment you just have to go for it."

He continues, "When it comes to career decisions or to any other decisions it is especially hard. But, when it comes to my daughter and my immediate family those are the easiest one to me."

Walker started in the movies early. As a child, he regularly appeared in TV commercials. His first big break came in the mid-’90s teen flicks She’s All That and The Skulls. He appeared with Reese Witherspoon in Pleasantville before he earned a plum role that catapulted him to stardom in the box-office smash Fast and the Furious and the sequel that followed.

And he could have been bigger. He could have been Superman. But he turned down the role. "Was it a good thing?" he asked. "It was a good thing for me. I guess, I don’t want to be known as Superman all my life. I want to be known as the guy from Fast and the Furious," he said almost immediately.

"Things are comfortable. They’ve never really gotten out of control for me. I feel like I have always been there. I like it just the way it is," he tries to explain his career trajectory.

"I just do what feels right. Things in my life didn’t happen because I was out there just pounding my fist and pumping my chest. Things come around with a reason. I believe in fate. Things fall the way they are supposed to. Yeah, I am proactive to a degree. You get frustrated and you go through four rounds of it. I really believe things come around the way they are supposed to. You can consider all the variables but you never know," he further relates.

Walker is working on the latest Clint Eastwood production Flags of Our Fathers.

"People are so caught up in the iconic Clint Eastwood that they are so comical. It’s so funny to watch people, how they shift back and watch for a break to approach him and they stall and you can see them spinning over and over in their heads what they are gonna say because the last thing they wanna do is come up to him and sound like a bumbling idiot," Walker recalls laughing.

"I told myself, I am not gonna be that guy. So I came up to him and I said, ‘Hey, what’s up Clint?’ and he just looked to me like ‘Who is this guy?’ I think he appreciated it. I don’t know, but I tried to keep it as low as possible. Other cast members are so quite young and I try to be the goofiest."

"I want to work really hard but, outside, I want to have a good time. I try to relax as much as I can," Walker muses.

Eight Below
opens in the Philippines on April 15. The film also stars Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood and pretty Korean newcomer Moon Bloodgood.

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