Wonderful character actor Bill Paxton has passed away at the age of 61, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Paxton’s death is the result of complications from heart surgery.
Bill Paxton’s Legacy
Bill Paxton was born on May 17th, 1955 in Fort Worth Texas. And, as many actors do, he began his career taking small roles in lesser known films from 1975 – 1984. In 1984, he had a small role in James Cameron’s The Terminator, followed by a turn as Chet in 1985’s Weird Science. Then, in 1986, Paxton turned in arguably his most iconic performance. He appeared in Aliens as the one-liner spewing Private William Hudson. His career continued until his death, turning up in countless films and TV shows including Twister, Apollo 13, and True Lies.
Character actors are the unsung heroes of genre films. Their job is to show up, make sure everyone is having fun, and be a support net for the protagonists. It’s a thankless job that garners little (if any) awards attention. And many audiences don’t commit their names to memory. They are often affectionately referred to as “that guy!” However, Bill Paxton was able to break the mold of the character actor and make an impression on audiences the world over.
His strength lay in his goofy southern charm and he knew how to use it. Sometimes he would be the lovable goofball. Other times, he played the gruff military guy sent in to hurl insults at his fellow actors. But each of his performances were uniquely Paxton. He earned three Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of a polygamist on Big Love and an Emmy Nomination for his work on History Channel’s Hatfields and McCoys.
Remembering an American Icon
Plain and simple, Bill Paxton ruled. His presence was always welcome in a film, regardless of its quality. Sure, it wasn’t the type of work that would regard him as one of the best of his generation, but it was a blast to watch. The idea that he was having fun while filming pops off the screen. And, sometimes, that’s all you can ask for from a performer. But the buck doesn’t stop there. Bill Paxton directed a handful of features, including the criminally under-seen Frailty. He leaves behind a long list of features to watch in tribute, but a few personal favorites are Tombstone, Edge of Tomorrow, and Frailty. How will you remember Bill Paxton? Let us know some of your favorite Bill Paxton performances in the comments below.