What seemed at first to be a cruel rumor over the weekend is now sadly confirmed as true. Actor Bill Paxton died on Saturday. No, not the President from ‘Independence Day’ – the other guy, the one from ‘Aliens’.
I kid, of course. Film fans have long joked about confusing Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman. Even though the two actors don’t particularly look or sound alike (other than both being white guys of about the same age), they have similar-sounding names and a fair amount of crossover in the types of movies they’ve each made, even both appearing together in the 1990 horror flick ‘Brain Dead’.
Bill Paxton played numerous memorable film roles since his start as a young actor in the early 1980s. He had bit parts in ‘Stripes‘ and ‘The Terminator‘ before his first big breakout role as Chet, the butthead older brother in John Hughes’ 1985 comedy ‘Weird Science‘. He and James Cameron both started out in the Roger Corman B-movie factory. After ‘The Terminator’, Cameron gave him a lot more screen time in the 1986 blockbuster ‘Aliens‘, in which Paxton’s character, the brash Pvt. Hudson, blurted the iconic line, “Game over, man! Game over!” Undoubtedly, that quote has been over-shared on social media the past couple of days.
Paxton and Cameron would reteam again in ‘True Lies’ and ‘Titanic‘. Among the many other notable characters Paxton played were a redneck vampire in Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Near Dark‘, a desperate astronaut in ‘Apollo 13‘, a daredevil tornado chaser in ‘Twister‘ and, recently, a gruff military sergeant in ‘Edge of Tomorrow‘.
On television, he led the cast of HBO’s acclaimed polygamy drama ‘Big Love’ for five seasons, received an Emmy nomination for the ‘Hatfields & McCoys‘ miniseries, had an important story arc in the first season of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, and just this very month launched a TV spinoff of ‘Training Day’ on CBS.
Paxton even tried his hand at directing a couple times. His 2001 horror drama ‘Frailty‘ is severely underrated.
At present, the only details available about the actor’s death are that it resulted from complications with heart surgery. He was 61-years-old.