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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Welcome to The Top 5, where every week, we list five things for a given topic. These topics can range from “5 Things We Liked About The Power Rangers Teaser Trailer” to “5 Things We Want (Or Don’t Want) In Ben Affleck’s The Batman.”

Of course, because everyone has an opinion, there is sure to be some disagreements, which is why, despite the title “The Top 5,” very rarely are these actual “best of” articles. Instead, they’re meant to provide entertaining insight, and to stir a discussion, and give everyone a chance to speak their mind. 

If you have a suggestion for a Top 5 piece, send them my way via #TheTop5LRM on Twitter. If I choose your topic, I’ll be sure to give you a shoutout!

Now, on with today’s topic!


5 BILL PAXTON ROLES WE’LL NEVER FORGET


This past Sunday, we lost the legendary character actor Bill Paxton. At 61, no one really saw it coming, and given that he was still active on the television front with shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Training Day, it seemed like a given that the man was in good shape, health-wise. 

The news hit many of us like a sledgehammer, as he seemed like one of those actors destined to be around for at least another few decades. In this time of mourning and memorial, we thought it would be a good time to look back at Paxton’s most memorable roles he played on the screen, both big and small, as he was the “ultimate badass.”


MASTER SERGEANT FARELL, EDGE OF TOMORROW


This is one of Paxton’s most recent works (though not anywhere near his last, as the actor sure kept busy), and one of the more memorable ones in recent memory. When Edge of Tomorrow first came out, many folks weren’t much of a fan of Tom Cruise, and following the release of Oblivion, many seemed to label this movie as a clone of the other.

While the film ended up being a stellar experience on all fronts, one of the big standouts came in the form of Bill Paxton’s Master Sergeant Farell, the no-nonsense commander of J Squad who thinks Tom Cruise is an officer impersonator. In a concept that could have taken itself way too seriously, Paxton served as a wonderful bit of comedic relief, and his confident personality was a good counterbalance to Tom Cruise’s own, initially-frantic one. Paxton also lent the film a decent bit of gravitas to those perhaps not sold on the film’s first few minutes.


BILL HENRICKSON, BIG LOVE


Big Love is a series that could have gone down the wrong rabbit hole really quickly. Its concept revolved around a Mormon polygamist and his wives, and given the fact that the show was on HBO, it could have ended up as little more than a fetishistic take on the concept. Instead, the show managed to show the real-world difficulties that came alone with having three spouses — especially if one decided to go into politics.

The series has its comedic elements, to be sure, but one never felt that Bill Henrickson was a complete caricature. It shouldn’t have been surprising to those of us who have followed Paxton’s career as an actor, but his portrayal of Bill ended up being one of the most interestingly nuanced characters on TV at the time. Granted, we can’t undersell the hard work that the writers put into this one, but he was able to bring it to life in such an amazing way that it’s hard not to admire it.


BILL HARDING, TWISTER


This is one that gets all the nostalgia points. Twister was one of those films that managed not to take itself too seriously, all will still bringing a decent amount of thrills and suspense to the story. The main reason for that was because the characters worked so damn well. 

In the film, Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt play exes. Bill had moved on with his life and was all too ready to jump into a brand new relationship, far away from Helen Hunt and her stormchasing ways. Of course, he gets caught up in their most recent batch of storms, and the two rediscover their love for one other. On paper, it sounds stupid and cheesy, and on celluloid, it’s just as stupid and cheesy, but we don’t care because Paxton and Hunt have such great chemistry. They make us really care that a pair of crazy stormchasers could die at the hands of an F5 tornado. 

All in all, this is a romantic comedy set to the backdrop of tornadoes, and it’s perfect.


MORGAN EARP, TOMBSTONE


Of course, you knew Tombstone had to be on this list. This flick has gone one to be required watching for Western buffs. Between its great ensemble cast of characters, its action, and story, it checks off all the boxes one could need for fans of the genre. Between the likes of Val Kilmer, Kurt Russel, Sam Elliot, and Michael Beihn, this flick already had a lot going for it. But add in Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp, and you got yourself some real gold.

As a kid, seeing Morg’s death was one of the more memorable things to come out of it. At the time, I was still wrapping my head around the whole concept of death (I was probably seven when I first saw the film), his quote about not seeing “a damn thing” when dying really stuck with me. That scene alone is what first made me aware of Bill Paxton as an actor, and set the bar high for him going forward.


PRIVATE HUDSON, ALIENS


No Bill Paxton list would ever be complete without bringing up Aliens. While I hadn’t seen this until well into my high school years, there were several quotes that had remained in pop culture thanks to Paxton’s improvisational skills (and who can forget that scream during the knife game?).

In a film full of action and death, Hudson was someone the audience could really connect with. He was funny, sure, but he did a great job at saying exactly what the audience was thinking. This was a bit of a departure from the first Alien film, but it was a welcome one that audiences continue to eat up to this day. Even better, however, was the fact that we got to see this character go from the ultimate badass to a sniveling, whining baby (“Game over, man! Game over!”). Yet, despite that, Hudson was someone who managed to redeem himself by the end of the film,really cementing his place in the Hollywood pantheon of memorable characters.


What were some of your favorite roles of Bill Paxton? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.