Bill Paxton: 1955-2017

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Bill Paxton

In very depressing and surprising news, I regret to write that the always awesome Bill Paxton has passed away last Saturday due to complications with heart surgery.

On Sunday a representative of his family released the following statement:

It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery. A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.

Throughout his career Paxton has appeared in numerous beloved movies and portrayed many memorable characters, including Weird Science, Tombstone, Jan de Bont’s Twister, Predator 2, Robet Zemeckis’ Apollo 13, 1998’s remake of Mighty Joe Young and Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow.

Born on Forth Worth in Texas on May 17, 1955, Paxton begun his career in Hollywood in 1973 working in James Cameron’s art department. Eventually he got his screen debut as an actor in Jonathan Demme’s Crazy Mama in 1975 but his first prominent role came in 1983’s The Lords of Discipline.

In 1984 he appeared in a minor role in Cameron’s The Terminator as one of the first victims of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killer cyborg. This was the first film in a very successful collaboration between the actor and director that included him playing a space marine in Aliens, as car salesman pretending to be a secret agent in True Lies, and a treasure hunter in Titanic.

Four years after appearing in Titanic, he joined Cameron in a real life expedition of the infamous ship. The resulting film, Ghost of the Abyss was released in 2003.

After hearing the news of Paxton’s passing Cameron wrote the following statement to Vanity Fair:

I’ve been reeling from this for the past half hour, trying to wrap my mind and heart around it. Bill leaves such a void. He and I were close friends for 36 years, since we met on the set of a Roger Corman ultra-low budget movie. He came in to work on set, and I slapped a paint brush in his hand and pointed to a wall, saying “Paint that!” We quickly recognized the creative spark in each other and became fast friends. What followed was 36 years of making films together, helping develop each others projects, going on scuba diving trips together, watching each others kids growing up, even diving the Titanic wreck together in Russian subs. It was a friendship of laughter, adventure, love of cinema, and mutual respect. Bill wrote beautiful heartfelt and thoughtful letters, an anachronism in this age of digital shorthand. He took good care of his relationships with people, always caring and present for others. He was a good man, a great actor, and a creative dynamo. I hope that amid the gaudy din of Oscar night, people will take a moment to remember this wonderful man, not just for all the hours of joy he brought to us with his vivid screen presence, but for the great human that he was.

The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him.

Most recently he appeared on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was cast in one of the lead roles of the TV series adaptation of Antoine Fuqua’s Training Day. The last film he completed was the thriller The Circle due for release this year.

Bill Paxton was a lovable and fun actor full of charisma, someone who would make any character he played  likable. For instance who would ever forget his cocky turned to coward Private Hudson in Aliens? No matter how much a whiner his character was, Paxton made turned him into on of sci-fi’s most beloved characters.

Rest in piece Bill. We will truly miss you.