The California native welcomed Meadow in November 1998 with his ex-girlfriend Rebecca Soteros. Meadow was just a toddler when The Fast and the Furious premiered in June 2001, but her dad was already establishing friendships that would last the rest of his life.
Paul and his costar Vin Diesel connected right away while doing research for the first Fast film years before the franchise became a billion-dollar global enterprise. The Bloodshot actor played Dominic Toretto, a street racing kingpin, while Paul played Brian O’Conner, an LAPD officer assigned to infiltrate Dom’s crew of racers.
“Our chemistry is that we don’t have any chemistry,” the Joy Ride star said of Diesel in 2009. “That’s the funny thing. He’s east coast, I’m west coast, you know? We respect each other as human beings. And that’s about all it takes. We get around, we laugh. But we have such two totally different approaches to this whole game.”
Along the way, Paul named the Riddick star godfather to Meadow, and Diesel began calling his friend by the affectionate nickname “Pablo.” After sitting out 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the pair reunited with original franchise stars Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster for 2009’s Fast & Furious. At that point, the Fast Saga became the juggernaut that it still is.
Just four years later, however, the family suffered a blow when Paul, then 40, was involved in a single-car collision that left him and friend Roger Rodas dead. Furious 7 was still in production at the time, but Paul’s brothers, Cody and Caleb Walker, filled in to film his remaining scenes as Brian.
As a final tribute to his beloved friend, Diesel convinced Fast producers to keep Paul’s character alive in the franchise. In Furious 7, Brian decides to “retire” from the crew so he can focus on raising his family with Mia (Brewster). Since then, subsequent Fast movies have included nods to an offscreen Brian living a happy and relaxed life.
“I can’t envision making a Fast film continuing this mythology without my brother Pablo’s soul being the guiding spirit,” Diesel said in June 2021 ahead of the F9 release. “The fact that I can make these movies and these chapters with people that I love is probably the biggest blessing of all.”
Keep scrolling to see how Paul’s Fast family has supported Meadow over the years: