For Paul Walker, Hollywood was initially a means to an end to achieving the one thing he wanted more than anything else: a degree in marine biology

“I thought I’d make one movie, pay off my loans, and go back and finish school,” Walker explained at an event in 2011. “[But] it never stopped.”

The 40-year-old star, best known his leading role in the "Fast and Furious" film franchise, died last weekend in a car crash in Los Angeles. In the wake of his passing, fans and loved ones have paid tribute to a man who used every moment to pursue his passions and give back to those less fortunate. “His heart was so big," Paul Walker Sr. told CBS. "I was proud of him every day of his life.”

As of last year, Walker was still focused on making marine biology a part of his life after Hollywood. 

“My intention was always to go back to marine bio,” he said in May 2012. “I’m still going to be a marine biologist. I’m waiting until I’m 40. It was 30 and then it pushed to 35, and now it’s 40, maybe 40 plus. But you know, that’s life. Life is balance and kinda trying to figure out what’s going on. But in the end of it all, I’ll figure out a way to have my cake and eat it too.”

That future may have included hosting gigs for various marine nature series, something Walker enjoyed with stints on programs like the 2010 National Geographic series "Expedition Great White," and on Discovery's most recent Shark Week special "Spawn of Jaws."

"The sea is just a big mystery, really," he told German media in 2010. "There are things that are more alien in the ocean than I think are probably alien up in space. It seems like every other day there’s a new discovery. You look at it and you’re like, ‘Really, that’s from this planet?’ Things that are so bizarre.

"You know, we’re finding creatures living at depths that we thought were completely impossible. They’re living by sea vents where the temperature is so hot that we thought it would basically sterilize the water, so to find anything living in those environments is mind-blowing. And if it’s not the depths, it’s something in the sand, it’s a crazy octopus that was never before realized or identified. I like that. As much as we like to think we know, it’s just a reminder of how little we actually do."

Check out video of Walker talking about his involvement with "Expedition Great White" below. 

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

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