Bill Paxton
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Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton
Bill Paxton 2014.jpg
Paxton in 2014
William Paxton

(1955-05-17)May 17, 1955
DiedFebruary 25, 2017(2017-02-25) (aged 61)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California, U.S.
  • Actor
  • film director
Years active1975-2017
  • Kelly Rowan
    (m. 1979; div. 1980)
  • Louise Newbury (m. 1987)
Children2, including James Paxton

William Paxton (May 17, 1955 - February 25, 2017) was an American actor and director. He appeared in films such as The Terminator (1984), Commando (1985), Weird Science (1985), Aliens (1986), Near Dark (1987), Predator 2 (1990), Tombstone (1993), True Lies (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), Twister (1996), Titanic (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), U-571 (2000), Vertical Limit (2000), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Nightcrawler (2014), and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014). He also starred in the HBO drama series Big Love (2006-2011), earning three Golden Globe Award nominations during the show's run.[1] He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for portraying Randall McCoy in the History channel miniseries Hatfields & McCoys (2012).[2][3] His final film appearance was in The Circle (2017), released two months after his death.[4]

Early life

Paxton (the child seen raised above the crowd) before JFK emerges from the Hotel Texas on November 22, 1963

Paxton was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of Mary Lou (née Gray) and John Lane Paxton. His father was a businessman, lumber wholesaler, museum executive and, later, during his son's career, an occasional actor, most notably appearing in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films.[5] Paxton's great-great-grandfather was Elisha Franklin Paxton, a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War, who was killed commanding the legendary Stonewall Brigade at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Bill's mother was Roman Catholic and he and his siblings were raised in her faith.[6] Paxton was in the crowd when President John F. Kennedy emerged from the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, Texas on the morning of his assassination on November 22, 1963. Photographs of an eight-year-old Paxton being lifted above the crowd are on display at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.[7][8] He later co-produced the film Parkland, about the assassination. Paxton is distantly related to actress Sara Paxton.

On the Marc Maron podcast, Paxton revealed that at the age of 13 he contracted rheumatic fever, which had damaged his heart. During his teens, Paxton worked as a paper delivery boy with Mike Muir.[9]


Among Paxton's earliest roles were a minor role as a punk in The Terminator (1984), a supporting role as the lead protagonist's bullying older brother Chet Donnelly in John Hughes's Weird Science (1985), and Private W. Hudson in Aliens (1986).

He directed several short films, including the music video for Barnes & Barnes's novelty song "Fish Heads," which aired during Saturday Night Live's low-rated 1980-81 season. He was cast in a music video for the 1982 Pat Benatar song "Shadows of the Night" in which he appeared as a Nazi radio officer.

Music career

In 1982, Paxton and his friend, Andrew Todd Rosenthal, formed a new wave musical band called Martini Ranch. The band released its only full-length album, Holy Cow, in 1988 on Sire Records.[10] The album was produced by Devo member Bob Casale, and featured guest appearances by two other members of that band.[11] The music video for the band's single "Reach" was directed by James Cameron.[12]


Paxton worked with Cameron on The Terminator (1984) and then reunited with him on Aliens (1986). His performance in the latter film as Private Hudson earned him the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor.[13]


He and Cameron collaborated again on True Lies (1994) and Titanic (1997), the latter of which was the highest-grossing film of all time at its release. In his other roles, Paxton played Morgan Earp in Tombstone (1993), Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (1995), the male lead in Twister (1996), and lead roles in dark dramas such as One False Move (1992) and A Simple Plan (1998). In 1990, he co-starred with Charlie Sheen and Michael Biehn in Navy Seals.


Paxton directed the feature films Frailty (2001), in which he also starred, and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005).[14] Four years after appearing in Titanic, he joined Cameron on an expedition to the actual Titanic. A film about this trip, Ghosts of the Abyss was released in 2003.[14] He also appeared in the music video for Limp Bizkit's 2003 song "Eat You Alive" as a sheriff.

His highest profile television performances received much positive attention, including his lead role in HBO's Big Love (2006-2011), for which Paxton received three Golden Globe Award nominations. Paxton also received good reviews for his performance in the History Channel's miniseries Hatfields & McCoys (2012), for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award alongside co-star, Kevin Costner.

In 2014, he played the role of the villainous John Garrett in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and a supporting role in Edge of Tomorrow (2014).[14] He starred alongside Jon Bernthal, Rose McGowan and John Malkovich as a playable character in the 2014 video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (downloadable "Exo Zombies" mode).[15] In February 2016, Paxton was cast as Detective Frank Rourke for Training Day, a crime-thriller television series set 15 years after the events of the eponymous 2001 movie; it premiered a year later.[16]

Personal life

Paxton was married to Kelly Rowan from 1979 to 1980. In 1987 he married Louise Newbury and they had two children: James and Lydia.[17]

In February 2017, a few weeks prior to having cardiac surgery, Paxton stated in an interview with Marc Maron that he had a damaged heart valve, which was the result of him suffering from rheumatic fever in his youth.[18]


Paxton died of a stroke on February 25, 2017, at age 61.[19][20] He had successfully undergone open heart surgery to repair a heart valve and his aorta eleven days earlier.[21][22] It was revealed after his death that Paxton had suffered rheumatic fever as a child, which had caused heart damage early in his life.[23] He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park of Hollywood Hills.[24]

Upon learning of his death, a number of storm chasers paid tribute to his Twister role by spelling out his initials via the Spotter Network.[25]

The film Call Me by Your Name, released in November 2017, is dedicated to Paxton's memory. Peter Spears, producer of the film, explained that this was because his husband, Brian Swardstorm, who was also Paxton's best friend and agent, visited the set with Paxton during filming and befriended the film's director, Luca Guadagnino, who ultimately decided to dedicate the movie "in loving memory of Bill Paxton."[26]

Close friend and frequent collaborator James Cameron wrote a tribute to Paxton in an article for Vanity Fair detailing their 36-year friendship and expressing remorse over the projects they wouldn't be able to make together.[27]

Numerous other filmmakers and actors also paid tribute, including Rob Lowe,[28]Tom Hanks,[29]Charlize Theron,[30] former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,[31]Michael Biehn,[32]Jordan Peele,[30]William Shatner,[30]Jamie Lee Curtis,[30] as well as his years-long Big Love co-stars Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin.[30] Sevigny remembered Paxton as:

One of the less cynical, jaded people I've ever met in the business.... He believed in entertainment being transportive and transformative. He believed in the magic of what we can bring to people. That was really a gift that he gave to me.[33]

Book authors also paid tribute, such as Dennis E. Taylor (Bobiverse Series; Book 3 - "For Bill Paxton, who brought a little more humanity to some great SF movies.")



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1975 Crazy Mama John Uncredited [34]
1981 Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker/Night Warning Eddie as William Paxton
Stripes Soldier #8 [14]
1983 Reckless Bobo
The Lords of Discipline Gilbreath [14]
Mortuary Paul Andrews [14]
Taking Tiger Mountain Billy Hampton [35]
1984 Streets of Fire Clyde the Bartender [14]
Impulse Eddie [14]
The Terminator Punk Leader [14]
1985 Weird Science Chet Donnelly [14]
Commando Intercept Officer #1 [14]
1986 Aliens Private William Hudson [14]
1987 Near Dark Severen [14]
1988 Pass the Ammo Jesse Wilkes [14]
1989 Slipstream Matt Owens [14]
Next of Kin Gerald Gates [14]
Back to Back Bo Brand [14]
1990 Brain Dead Jim Reston [14]
The Last of the Finest Howard 'Hojo' Jones [14]
Navy SEALs Dane [14]
Predator 2 Jerry Lambert [14]
1991 The Dark Backward Gus [14]
1992 One False Move Dale 'Hurricane' Dixon [14]
The Vagrant Graham Krakowski [14]
Trespass Vince [14]
1993 Boxing Helena Ray O'Malley [14]
Indian Summer Jack Belston [14]
Monolith Tucker [14]
Tombstone Morgan Earp [14]
1994 Future Shock Vince [14]
True Lies Simon [14]
1995 Apollo 13 Fred Haise [14]
The Last Supper Zachary Cody [14]
Frank and Jesse Frank James [14]
1996 Twister Bill "The Extreme" Harding [14]
The Evening Star Jerry Bruckner [14]
1997 Traveller Bokky [14]
Titanic Brock Lovett [14]
1998 A Simple Plan Hank [14]
Mighty Joe Young Professor Gregory O'Hara [14]
2000 U-571 Lieutenant Commander Mike Dahlgren [14]
Vertical Limit Elliot Vaughn [14]
2001 Frailty Dad Meiks Also director [14]
2002 Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams Dinky Winks [14]
2003 Ghosts of the Abyss Himself / Narrator [14]
Resistance Major Theodore 'Ted' Brice [36]
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over Dinky Winks [14]
2004 Club Dread Coconut Pete [14]
Thunderbirds Jeff Tracy [14]
Haven Carl Ridley [37]
2005 Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D Edgar Mitchell Short film [38]
The Greatest Game Ever Played N/A Director [14]
2007 The Good Life Robbie [14]
2011 Haywire John Kane
Tornado Alley Narrator
2012 Shanghai Calling Donald [39]
2013 The Colony Mason [14]
2 Guns Earl [14]
Red Wing Jim Verret [14]
2014 Million Dollar Arm Tom House [14]
Edge of Tomorrow Master Sergeant Farell [14]
Nightcrawler Joe Loder [14]
2015 Pixies Eddie Beck Voice [40]
2016 Term Life Detective Keenan [14]
Mean Dreams Wayne Caraway [14]
2017 The Circle Vinnie Holland Posthumous release [14]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1983 Deadly Lessons Eddie Fox Movie [14]
1985 An Early Frost Bob Maracek Movie [14]
The Atlanta Child Murders Campbell Miniseries [14]
1986 Fresno Billy Joe Bobb Miniseries (4 episodes) [14]
Miami Vice Detective Vic Romano Episode: "Streetwise" [41]
1987 The Hitchhiker Trout Episode: "Made for Each Other" [42]
1993 Tales from the Crypt Billy DeLuca Episode: "People Who Live in Brass Hearses" [41]
1998 A Bright Shining Lie John Paul Vann Movie [14]
2003 Frasier Ernie Episode: "Analyzed Kiss" [41]
2006-11 Big Love Bill Henrickson Lead role (53 episodes) [43]
2012 Hatfields & McCoys Randolph McCoy Miniseries (3 episodes) [43]
2013 JFK: The Day That Changed Everything Narrator Documentary [44]
2014 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. John Garrett 6 episodes [41]
2015 Texas Rising Sam Houston Miniseries [45][46]
The Gamechangers Jack Thompson Movie [47]
2017 Training Day Detective Frank Roarke Lead role (13 episodes) [41]

Music videos

Year Title Artist Role Notes Ref.
1980 "Fish Heads" Barnes & Barnes Main character Director [48]
1981 "Love Tap" Barnes & Barnes Main Character
1982 "Shadows of the Night" Pat Benatar Wehrmacht-Unteroffizier [42]
1987 "Touched by the Hand of God" New Order [49]
1988 "Reach" Martini Ranch Main character [42]
"How Can The Laboring Man Find Time For Self Culture?" Martini Ranch
2003 "Eat You Alive" Limp Bizkit Sheriff [42]

Video game

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Kahn Exo Zombies [15]

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Title Result Ref.
1987 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Aliens Won [50]
1995 CableACE Awards Best Actor in a Dramatic Series Tales from the Crypt Nominated [51]
1996 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Apollo 13 Won [52]
1997 Saturn Awards Best Actor Twister Nominated
1998 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Titanic Nominated [53]
1999 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film A Bright Shining Lie Nominated [54]
2003 Saturn Awards Best Director Frailty Nominated [55]
2006 Satellite Awards Best Actor - Television Series Drama Big Love Nominated [56]
2007 Nominated [57]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Television Series Drama Nominated [54]
2008 Nominated [54]
2009 Satellite Awards Best Actor - Television Series Drama Nominated [58]
2010 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor - Television Series Drama Nominated [54]
2012 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie Hatfields & McCoys Nominated [59]
2013 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated [60]


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  7. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (March 28, 2007). "The Day Bill Paxton Saw John F. Kennedy". Dallas Observer Blogs. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ DiBlasi, Loren (May 25, 2012). "Live With Kelly: Bill Paxton 'Hatfields & McCoys' Interview". Recapo. Retrieved 2012.
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  10. ^ Pearis, Bill. "Bill Paxton, RIP". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 2017.
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  13. ^ Macdonald, Susan (February 26, 2017). "Bill Paxton, Saturn-Award Winning Actor, Dead at 61". Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl "Filmography for Bill Paxton".
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  21. ^ Bill Paxton Died Of Stroke Following Surgery - Update March 6, 2017.
  22. ^ Strickland, Ashley (March 7, 2017). "Bill Paxton's death caused by stroke after surgery". CNN. Retrieved 2018.
  23. ^ Ross, Martha (March 7, 2017). "Bill Paxton's death related to heart defect and possibly to childhood illness". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2018.
  24. ^ "Cause of death revealed for Bill Paxton". WBAL. March 6, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  25. ^ Meteorologist, Brandon Miller, CNN. "Storm chasers pay tribute to Bill Paxton". CNN.
  26. ^ Kelly, Emma. "Call Me By Your Name is one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, with critics hailing it as a modern gay classic". Metro.
  27. ^ Cameron, James. "James Cameron Remembers Bill Paxton: "The World Is a Lesser Place For His Passing". Vanity Fair. VF. Retrieved 2018.
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  29. ^ Evans, Greg (February 26, 2017). "Hollywood Mourns Bill Paxton: "A Wonderful Man", Says Tom Hanks". Deadline. Retrieved 2018.
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  31. ^ Bacle, Ariana. "True Lies stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis remember Bill Paxton". Entertainment Weekly. EW. Retrieved 2018.
  32. ^ Leon, Melissa (April 26, 2017). "Game Over, Man: 'Aliens' Cast Remembers the 'Irreplaceable' Bill Paxton on Alien Day". Daily Beast. Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018.
  33. ^ Franich, Darren (March 1, 2017). "Chloë Sevigny remembers Big Love costar Bill Paxton". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2018.
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  38. ^ "Magnificent Desolation (cast & crew)". AllMovie. Retrieved 2017.
  39. ^ Lee, Maggie. "Shanghai Calling". Variety.
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  52. ^ Kagan, Jeremy, ed. (2013). "Appendix B". Directors close up 2 : interviews with directors nominated for best film by the Directors Guild of America : 2006-2012 (illustrated ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 348. ISBN 978-0-8108-8391-8.
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  56. ^ "11th Satellite Awards -- FilmAffinity".
  57. ^ "12th Satellite Awards -- FilmAffinity".
  58. ^ "2009 -- Categories -- International Press Academy".
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External links

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