Belfast Telegraph

Friday 21 November 2014

Walker ‘was homeless student’

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Action Press/REX (2300045t)
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker
'Fast and Furious 6' film event at CinemaCon, Las Vegas, America - 16 Apr 2013
Paul Walker

Paul Walker was homeless while he was studying, it has been revealed.

The 40-year-old actor died after the Porsche he was travelling in crashed and burst into flames at the end of last month.

Among those to share memories about the late star is social worker Ken Williams, who worked on a film about homeless people called Shelter with Paul and his business partner Brandon Birtell. The documentary follows the lives of several people who live on the streets in Santa Barbara, California, where Paul was from.

"Brandon and Paul were homeless for a while in college and related to the issue. Brandon mentioned that he had been living out his car and a lot of students lived out of cars or in homeless shelters, they still do now, as they can’t afford the tuition fees, there’s no such thing as food stamps, and rents are so high," Ken told MailOnline.

"They said it was for a brief time and they knew it was a world of difference to the people that live on the streets for virtually their whole life."

Paul attended California Community College where he studied Marine Biology.

Ken has been a social worker for many years and showed Paul how deeply ingrained the issues of homelessness is in the area.

Shelter was shot over 12 months in 2009 and follows four people, among them a blind man called Pops.

"They wanted to follow me around, as they wanted to see the homeless through their eyes. They didn’t want the people who were being filmed to be conscious of it," Ken explained.

Paul continued work on the film even while shooting the Fast and Furious franchise, which touched Ken. The social worker wants Paul to be remembered as a selfless man who cared about others.

"They were doing this documentary and Paul was having to commute from Brazil where he was filming Fast and Furious. They really left their comfort zone to do this. They’d never done anything like it and it wasn’t going to get them any kudos," he said.

"For Paul, I go back to how humble he was. He had all this other stuff going on, but he wanted to do this, it speaks volumes. It was so chaotic and difficult to do."

A memorial was held in Santa Clarita, where Paul's accident happened, yesterday and thousands of fans turned up to pay their respects.

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