Paul Walker, star of the surprise hit Eight Below, goes from huskies to heavies with his new – and decidedly not kid-friendly – movie Running Scared, a Mob thriller. The 32-year-old Glendale, Calif., native, who has a 7-year-old daughter, Meadow, with an ex, spoke recently about his favorite sled dog, hating Keanu Reeves and how his latest film cost him a girlfriend.
How was it working with the dogs in Eight Below?
I was dealing with 64 dogs (because) each dog had seven doubles. I knew them all by name. I knew each and every one of their personalities.
Could you keep any of them?
No. I wanted to go home with Jasper – he was Shorty in the film, and he was the worst dog to work with. The dog never hit his mark. He was the fastest one, though, and the sweetest one.
After The Fast and the Furious and Into the Blue, were you happy to have a movie your daughter could see?
Yep. My daughter and my nieces and nephews. I’m really close to all of my family. (When my mother saw the Running Scared trailer,) she said, “It would be nice if you could do a movie for the kids.” No joke, two weeks (later) to the day I got the offer for the Antarctica movie.
How is your daughter?
She’s doing really well. She lives in Hawaii. I just got back from visiting with her. When I’m there we have our routine: We go surfing together and that sort of thing.
Why did you want to do a movie as violent as Running Scared?
These types of movies are a guilty pleasure for me. I’m not affected by violence the way some people are. I don’t know why, but I enjoy that intensity. A lot of people are going to hate this movie. The language is terrible. So it’s definitely not for everyone, but it was quite an exercise, and I enjoyed the hell of it.
Director Wayne Kramer has said there are a lot of Paul Walker-haters out there. What do you make of that?
I did the same thing growing up. I couldn’t stand, like, Keanu Reeves or Christian Slater or all those guys that all the girls had crushes on. I hated them. Even if I liked them, I hated them. So that’s just the way that it works.
So is that your butt or a body double’s in the laundry-room sex scene?
You know what’s funny? This is the second time that I’ve made it on a washing machine with my butt exposed. I did it in Varsity Blues, too. I’m like, “Man, I don’t know what it is. I’ve got my butt out here involving washing appliances once a year.”
Was filming this movie more strenuous than filming Eight Below?
Hands down. Emotionally it was completely draining. I was running on adrenaline every day and I would take it home with me. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a fight, but you get so excited that you tremble afterwards. So I would go home trembling. A girlfriend of mine came out to visit and she was supposed to stay for two weeks. She stayed for four days and left.
Are you still together?
We’re still friendly. But she said that it was just too intense: one, to watch it, and then two, just that I was having a hard time leaving it at work.
Did filming Eight Below afterward help you get back to normal?
Yeah, I guess so. That and I went back to all my friends, people I grew up with. I’m not completely lost.