Having spent the first 13 years of daughter Meadow’s life being a holiday dad, Paul Walker had made a big choice about their future.
Paul Walker was just 25 when he and then-girlfriend Rebecca Soteros found out she was expecting their daughter, Meadow Rain Walker.
With his Hollywood career on the ascendant and no desire on either side to get married, Rebecca raised Meadow in Hawaii while Paul stayed in California.
But being a holiday dad left the late actor in a state of near constant turmoil – while he was able to provide for his daughter financially, he knew he was missing out on her childhood.
“My heart was desperate for so many years with the situation with my daughter. She’s living in Hawaii and she’s there and I’m running here,” he once told Entertainment Weekly.
Then in 2011, just three years before his untimely death, Paul was delighted when a 13 year old Meadow moved to California to live with him full time.
“She’s the best partner I’ve ever had. It’s so nuts. I’ve never had anything like this in my life,” he gushed.
But the transition came with its own set of challenges, in particular how to balance his Hollywood career with being a full-time dad.
While he was desperate to scale down his workload to make time for his daughter, he said supportive Meadow would often talk him into taking jobs.
Admitting he would get annoyed when execs tried to tempt him with good scripts, he continued: “There’s a part of me who feels like I’m making up for lost time. I was like ‘Okay that’s it, I’m not working, leave me alone.’
“[But] she’s so funny. She sits me down and she’s like ‘When does it go? What months? I like to travel in the summertime anyway’.”
Indeed, Paul’s brothers Cody and Caleb spoke at length about the ‘huge conflict’ that Meadow’s arrival created in him.
He had just signed a three-movie deal but was ‘so excited’ about living with his daughter that Cody said he desperately tried to pull out – but it was too late.
“He would always say, ‘I only have five more years until she graduates high school. Four more years…’ He was really starting to figure that out,” Cody told E! News.
Describing Paul’s last year as ‘hectic’, he said the star was busy shooting Fast and the Furious 7 while, “trying to figure out how to navigate being a dad.”
And according to Caleb, it was just hours before Paul’s tragic death in a fiery crash on November 30, 2013, that he finally reached a decision.
Earlier that day, Caleb said Paul had, “a spooky, groundbreaking kind of come-to-Jesus [conversation]” with their mum Cheryl about his and Meadow’s future.
Cody added: “He called me right after [and said], ‘Meadow’s living with me now. I want to retire… I want to be full time for Meadow. I want her to go to the same high school you went to.’ Like the whole nine.”
Sadly, Paul didn’t get chance to see through his plans to quit Hollywood, dying almost instantly when the car he was a passenger in hit a lamppost and burst into flames. He was just 40 years old.
After Paul’s death, his mum Cheryl applied for custody of Meadow but later dropped her bid.