MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 3) American actor Paul Walker, best known for his roles in the "Fast and the Furious" action movies, died on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in a car crash in Southern California, his publicist said.
Walker, 40, who was in five of the six films about illegal street racing and heists, was a passenger in a friend's car and was attending a charity event, according to a message linked to his Twitter account.
"Sadly, I must confirm that Paul did pass away this afternoon in a car accident," Ame Van Iden, Walker's publicist, said in an email.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that two people were killed in a car accident in Valencia, a community in the city of Santa Clarita, at about 3:30 p.m.
Deputies arriving at the scene found the vehicle engulfed in flames. The victims were pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said. The office did not provide the identities of the dead, and said the cause was under investigation.
In the "Fast and Furious" pictures, the blond-haired, blue-eyed actor played Brian O'Conner, a law enforcement official.
The first movie in the series, which stars Vin Diesel, was released in 2001, and a seventh was in development at the time of his death, Universal, the studio behind the franchise, said in a statement. The most recent film, released in May, was one of this year's biggest box office hits.
"Brother I will miss you very much," Diesel said in a post on Instagram, adding: "I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace."
According to the IMDb.com movie website, Paul William Walker IV was born in Glendale, California, in 1973 and began acting at a very young age, appearing in many commercials. He played Professor Bennet in the 1987 movie "Monster in the Closet" and starred in the television series "Throb," IMDb said.
Walker also made guest appearances on television shows, including "Charles in Charge" and "Who's the Boss?" and had a role in the soap opera, "The Young and the Restless."
Other film appearances include "Timeline," "Into the Blue," "The Lazarus Project" and "Hours," which is slated for release in December.
According to IMDb, Walker has a daughter named Meadow.
Universal conveyed its condolences to Walker's family, saying, "All of us at Universal are heartbroken.
"Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans."
More tributes flowed on social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
"So sad. He gave a lot of joy," wrote James Franco, while model/actor Tyson Beckford posted "Tyson Beckford: RIP Paul Walker, loved working with you on "Into the Blue."
Television host Carson Daly said that he was "Sick about the tragic loss of #PaulWalker. I enjoyed our time together very much. Such a really nice guy," while actress Alyssa Milano, current host of "Project Runway All Stars," protested "No. No. No" before adding "Rest with the angels."
Celebrity website TMZ first reported that Walker and another person was killed after the Porsche GT they were riding lost control and slammed into either a tree or a post, and subsequently burst into flames and exploded.
Sources told TMZ that Walker was in Santa Clarita for a car show meant to raise funds for the relief efforts for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in the Philippines.
Earlier this week, members of the "Fast and the Furious" cast, including Walker, reached out to their fans in an effort to raise awareness of as well as assistance for the victims of "Yolanda" in the Philippines.
It was Walker who spoke on behalf of the group.
“The needs are gonna be extensive for a long period of time. So basically, we are reaching out to the fans. We love Manila -- we were there last year, they received us with open arms. We love the Philippines,” Walker in the video.
On Sunday, Malacañang took note of Walker's fund-raising activities for the typhoon survivors in the country.
In a text message, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said: “We mourn the death of actor Paul Walker while in California where he raised funds for Filipinos who suffered much in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda's onslaught.”
“Filipinos admire him for his artistic talents and will honor his memory for his humanitarian compassion and solidarity in our time of need,” Coloma added. -- With report from Reuters