Paul Walker Used An Old High School Bully As Inspiration For Varsity Blues

Sometimes it's almost hard to recall that the late Paul Walker had a career outside of the "Fast & Furious" films. Before he became a cornerstone of one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood history, Walker was cutting his teeth the way any young, ludicrously handsome actor just breaking into the movie business does: in teen movies like "She's All That" and "Varsity Blues."

It was actually in "Varsity Blues" where a lot of people first really got to know Walker as an actor, especially since he was playing something of an antithesis of the stereotypical blonde haired, blue-eyed, All-American kid who happens to be a star high school quarterback in Texas. Usually, the pretty boy quarterbacks are played as total jerks (like Ted McGinley in "Revenge of the Nerds," as one example), but in "Varsity Blues," Walker's character, Lance Harbor, is actually a nice guy who sees a promising playing career cut short due to a catastrophic injury. But while Lance is a good dude in the movie, Walker actually took some of his inspiration for the role from a real-life bully from back in his high school days.

Taking his cues from a real-life jerk

While Paul Walker himself was never bullied in high school, he described himself as being a little bit odd at that age. He was a self-proclaimed hippie, and as an aspiring actor, he was a keen observer of human behavior. That includes observing the way his classmates treated one another. It was one of the less kind people from his high school who informed the way he carried himself as a star quarterback in "Varsity Blues." As Walker told IGN in 2001:

"I don't want to say his name, but I know exactly who I was when I was makin' that movie, you know what I mean? Oh yeah, [the guy who was always] stuffin' kids in lockers and stuff. Oh yeah! He never messed with me, I never had beef with him. I was kinda weird in high school, though, because I played all the sports yet my hair was always down to my shoulders."

While Lance is certainly not an overt jerk in the movie, it's not hard to see where Walker was coming from with his approach to the character. After all, this is a cocky kid whose hometown puts him on a pedestal, to the point where nearly every girl in his high school swoons at the mere mention of him lying in bed (and yes, if you've never seen the movie or haven't watched it in awhile, that's exactly what happens at a pep rally early in the film). Fortunately, that's pretty much where the similarities end between Lance and his real-life bully counterpart end. And honestly? The movie is vastly better for subverting our expectations with a guy like Lance, who we can't help but root for as the film progresses.