Legendary actor Bill Paxton passed away the other day at age 61 due to complications arising from surgery. His career spanned decades, seeing him with parts in The Terminator, Aliens, Twister, and the television shows Big Love and Training Day. Everyone at LRM wishes to express their condolences to the Paxton family on their loss.
As an actor, what I loved about him was the honesty he brought to his roles. Even if he were only on screen for a couple minutes, you believed he was the whatever character he was portraying on screen. I also loved the sense of wonder you would see in his face. He was a man who loved playing make believe in Hollywood. Some actors take themselves too seriously to really enjoy the fact that they’re experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity. Bill had a way of making you feel like a kid with how excited he appeared.
A friend of mine, Eric Fuentes, had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Paxton when he lived in Los Angeles. When Bill passed away, he related some stories of what Bill was like which I would like to share with you now.
“I first fell in love with Bill when as a kid I devoured anything that featured anyone from the Brat Pack, a group of young actors who worked together and were coveted by Hollywood and the paparazzi alike. He wasn't part of that group. No, he was Chet the older, conservative, hyper-masculine brother to one of the leads in Weird Science. It was then that I would form what would become a model of man that I was attracted to: masculine, arrogant, full of themselves. He went on to making other movies where he'd be cast as a loud-mouth, comic relief; True Lies, Aliens, Predator 2. Bill has good off-screen presence and made the right friends in Hollywood. Bill refused to be type-cast in those roles and showed his range in movies like Tombstone, Apollo 13, and Frank & Jesse but it wasn't until a movie who's lead was a natural disaster that Bill became a household name. When Twister came out, my admiration (and attraction) for Bill Paxton had reached its peak. It was then (1996) that I met Bill who lived in Santa Barbara at the time. We both volunteered for AIDS Walk in Ventura, Ca. He and Rob Lowe were the Celebrity hosts and I was prepared with my VHS copy of Twister which Bill happily signed. My mom still has that copy. I'd see and talk with Bill again while serving him and his family who would frequent the restaurant that I served at. His wife and son came in regularly and I'd send them off with a request to pass on my well wishes to Bill. I grew proud of Bill with each new interpretation of his talent as I saw him taking parts that seemed to mature in nature in the same way that his repertoire, and my sense of attraction, was maturing. It's true. Bill Paxton helped shape my attraction throughout my life. That's a big statement. When Bill worked on Titanic I saw him pull back a bit and I wondered why he was taking small parts again but I see now that it was in preparation to get into the most complex and mature role he'd done on film to date. Big Love was incredibly controversial and touched a very heavy topic that I saw Bill conquer with much aplomb. I don't think the "Bill" character could have been as relatable and likable if anyone else had played him and I believe it was a personal challenge and accomplishment for him - or at least that's how I felt: proud. I felt pride for someone who I considered a friend and who would smile his famous wide-tooth grin when he'd see me. A friend who I grew up with, maybe not physically but by way of cinema and TV. I felt a close connection with Bill. I feel a loss today. I celebrate Bill's great catalogue of performances. Today, I'll reflect on each of my favorite roles and how they seemed to align perfectly for the different stages of my life. Thank you Private Hudson. Godspeed on the next leg of your journey!”
Bill Paxton was an amazing actor. He was someone who loved the type of movies that other actors would shy away from because they might not be deemed serious movies. He will be missed but his legacy lives on. Thank you Bill for everything you’ve done.