William Archibald "Bill" Paxton (May 17, 1955 February 25, 2017) was an American actor and film director. He gained popularity after starring in a number of films, including Apollo 13, Weird Science, Twister, Aliens, True Lies, and Titanic (1997). Paxton starred in the HBO series Big Love (200611) and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys.
Paxton could be considered a cult actor, a character actor, and a movie star. He mantained a consistent presence in film and television throughout his career and could always be relied on to give 100%. He was a regular collaborator of James Cameron, appearing in four of Cameron's films.
He's also the only actor to play characters that have been killed onscreen by a Predator, a Terminator, and a Xenomorph. (Lance Henriksen almost counts, as his character was Killed Offscreen in The Terminator).
Paxton died of complications from heart surgery at age 61 on February 25, 2017. He is survived by his wife Louise Newbury and their kids James and Lydia.
His son James Paxton is also an actor.
- 1984: The Terminator as the blue-haired punk
- 1985: Commando as Intercept Officer
- 1985: Weird Science as Chet Donnelly
- 1986: Aliens as Private William Hudson
- 1987: Near Dark as Severen
- 1989: Next of Kin as Gerald Gates
- 1989: Slipstream as Matt Owens.
- 1990: Navy SEA Ls as Floyd "God" Dane
- 1990: Predator 2 as Jerry Lambert
- 1992: One False Move as Dale "Hurricane" Dixon
- 1992: The Vagrant as Graham Krakowski
- 1993: Boxing Helena as Ray O'Malley
- 1993: Tombstone as Morgan Earp
- 1994: Frank and Jesse as Frank James
- 1994: True Lies as Simon
- 1995: Apollo 13 as Fred Haise
- 1996: Twister as Bill Harding
- 1997: Titanic as Brock Lovett
- 1998: A Simple Plan as Hank
- 1998: Mighty Joe Young as Professor Gregory 'Gregg' O'Hara
- 2000: U571 as Lt. Commander Mike Dahlgren
- 2000: Vertical Limit as Elliot Vaughn
- 2001: Frailty as Dad (also his directorial debut)
- 2004: Thunderbirds as Jeff Tracy
- 2011: Haywire as John Kane
- 2013: The Colony as Mason
- 2013: 2 Guns as Earl
- 2014: Edge of Tomorrow as Master Sergeant Farrell
- 2014: Million Dollar Arm as Tom House
- 2014: Nightcrawler as Joe Loder
- 2015: The Gamechangers as Jack Thompson
- 2017: The Circle as Mae's father
- 1986: Miami Vice as Det. Vic Romano
- 1987: The Hitchhiker as Trout
- 1993: Tales from the Crypt as Billy DeLuca
- 2003: Frasier as Ernie
- 200611: Big Love as Bill Henrickson
- 2012: Hatfields & McCoys as Randolph McCoy
- 2014: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as John Garrett/The Clairvoyantnote
- 2015: Texas Rising as Sam Houston
- 2017: Training Day as Detective Frank Roarke
Tropes associated with his work
- Casting Gag: It's no coincidence in Edge of Tomorrow that he's overseeing a group of marines being sent out to fight Aliens.
- Chronically Killed Actor: Put it this way; he's one of only two actors who have been killed by a Xenomorph, a Predator and a Terminator. The other is Lance Henriksen.
- The Danza:
- Plays Bill Henricksen in Big Love.
- And Bill Harding in Twister.
- And Billy DeLuca in the Tales from the Crypt episode where he appears.
- A Throw It In example on Aliens. As the marines' names are never revealed (besides Hicks) they all share the same first names as their actors. So Bill plays Private William Hudson.
- Enforced Method Acting: Remember that scene in Aliens where Bishop demonstrates his knife trick using Hudson as a guinea pig? Bill didn't know exactly what Lance Henriksen would be doing - so his look of surprise and fear is genuine.
- Playing Against Type:
- Production Posse: He's one of James Cameron's regulars. The only Cameron films he doesn't appear in are The Abyss and Avatar.
- Those Two Actors: He and Michael Biehn have appeared in Aliens, The Terminator, Navy SEALs, Lords of Discipline and Tombstone.
- Throw It In: Some of Paxton's most memorable lines were improvised by himself.
- Many of the taunts he spouts as Chet in Weird Science were things he remembered being said to him over the years. He got Hughes to add them to the script.
- His "Game over!" in Aliens line was improvised.
- Typecasting: Bill Paxton tended to play the Jerkass, Jerk with a Heart of Gold or Deadpan Snarker.
- What Could Have Been:
- He was the first choice for Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code but was already committed to Big Love, and the part went to Tom Hanks.
- Funnily enough Tom Hanks was the original choice for the lead in Twister and even did a table reading of it, before Bill replaced him.
- Really lobbied to play Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991) and claims he "read my ass off". But as he was coming from Navy Seals, he had short hair and a moustache, Oliver Stone went "I just don't see it."