Fans, friends, and fellow actors were shocked by the news of Paul Walker's death on Saturday. The actor was most famous for playing Brian O'Conner in the hugely popular Fast and the Furious movies, but was in the midst of trying out more complex roles. One of those roles will be seen in Eric Heisserer's Hours, scheduled for release on December 13.
The film follows Walker as the father of a child born prematurely in New Orleans, just before the onset of Hurricane Katrina. With his wife having died in childbirth Walker's character is plunged, alone, into a desperate fight to save his newborn baby's life as the city crumbles around him.
As the description suggests, and the trailer firmly confirms, Hours is a movie heavy with drama, and the entirety of that weight rests solidly on Walker's shoulders. It is, without question, the most challenging role of Walker's career. As the CEO of Pantelion Film told the Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, it is the role in which Walker was most deeply invested: "It's Paul's tour de force. He's in every frame of the movie."
The movie was certainly deeply personal to Walker who founded the charity for victims of natural disasters, Reach Out Worldwide in 2010 — just after the earthquake in Haiti. Walker was at a Reach Out Worldwide event the day he died.
As for the film, Hours already had it's festival premiere at the South by Southwest film festival earlier this year, allowing journalists to view, and review, the film in an environment not overshadowed by the death of its leading actor. While opinions were mixed as to Walker's ability to pull of the hefty role, Variety described the film as a one-man show in which "Walker gracefully balances the drama on his shoulders."
There was debate surrounding Hours regarding the suitability of a release date so soon after the actor's death, but in the end the decision was clear. Producer Peter Safran said, "Paul would have very much wanted us to move forward. He was incredibly proud of this project … He really looked to this movie to show people that he is an actor."
If the intensely dramatic trailer is anything to go by the film will certainly achieve that, with Walker pulling off a powerful, and believable, performance.
The release of Hours next Friday is more than just appropriate. As Walker's most personal movie, and arguably his most compelling and complicated performance, it will serve as a tribute to his life and work.