On February 25th the world lost not just a great actor, but a wonderful person all around. Bill Paxton passed away at the age of 61, still producing fantastic work and never stopping once. At the time of his passing he was working on the CBS cop drama TRAINING DAY, based on the film by the same name. For some who were not fully aware of who Bill Paxton was, this was their chance to get-to know him and his acting skills.
For me personally I will always remember Bill Paxton as the Storm Chaser turned Weather Man, who also happened to be named “Bill”, in the film TWISTER. Bill was the heart of that film with his smile and good nature…no pun in tended. His on screen chemistry with actress Helen Hunt sold that film. Well that an the awesome ILM tornado scenes, plus that flying cow!
It was not until I started to watch more and more films that I noticed Bill Paxton in them. True Lies, Terminator, Predator 2, Commando! Then I went to see the film TITANIC in theaters, and there was Bill again!
One of my other top favorite Bill Paxton role was as Morgan Earp in TOMBSTONE. Bill fit in perfectly alongside actors Kurt Russell and Sam Elliot! His ability to be both serious and funny with the characters he played always made him stand out in a big cast.
In 2007 I had the pleasure to meet Bill Paxton for the first time at the 1st Dallas AFI Film Festival. He was there as part of a film panel hosted by film critic Gary Cogill. Being from Fort Worth, Texas and a serious actor, Bill’s advice was something I really payed attention to as an up-and-coming filmmaker. After the panel I walked up to him and told him I was a huge fan of the film THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED, which he directed. We talked about the cinematography and how much fun he had working on the film. I asked if we could get a picture together and he said yes!
Then in 2010 I was covering the Dallas International Film Festival with my college media group, and Bill was on the red carpet promoting the film CARRIED AWAY. We had the opportunity to both interview and speak with him. I mention that we had met a few years back at AFI and he remembered me.
Those two moments have stayed with me forever!
Looking back at some of Bill Paxton’s most recent roles two stand out for me. Both happen to be produced by the History Channel, HATFIELDS & MCCOYS and TEXAS RISING. In both roles we had the chance to see Bill Paxton’s strait dramatic performance at its best! I know TEXAS RISING was near and dear to him, not only being a Texan, because he had the opportunity to play a distant relative of his…Gen. Sam Houston. I own both of these miniseries and its a must watch for anyone who’s a fan of history or great acting!
If you want to know how loved Bill Paxton was by his fellow actors and others, watch the In Memorial from this years Oscars. Actress Jennifer Aniston choked up as she read the teleprompter that gave remembrance to the actor. Then storm chasers around the US came together to spell “BP” with their radars.
Bill Paxton will be missed, but his legacy with never be GAME OVER.