"Oh, my God," said my friend, staring at her smartphone. "Paul Walker died in a fiery crash."
For a split-second, it registered as maybe a joke. Paul Walker? The star of the Fast & Furious franchise? The one where cars can pretty much fly, especially when driven by Walker or Vin Diesel? A guy named Walker, dying while riding? Not exactly Onion funny, but still, very much the sort of thing the Internet might cough up for the lulz.
But no, it wasn't a joke. Paul Walker, age 40, a handsome guy who wasn't a great actor but who found a magnificent niche, was dead. Like Transformers star Shia LaBeouf, he played second fiddle to his automotive costars. Unlike Shia LaBeouf, he didn't annoy folks while doing it. He was a smiling cog in a fun machine. It remains to be seen whether or not that particular machine can run without him. The Fast & the Furious 7 was still filming at the time of the actor's death.