I really didn’t sit down to write a remembrance of Bill Paxton — as someone who reports genre news on a daily basis – when things like this happen — the passing of a celebrity or genre notable — I’ve found it better to not add to that sudden rush of noise and praise and sympathy. Things just seem to get lost in the shuffle and for me — grief has always been one of those things I don’t share easily.
But on this occasion, I’ve been unable to detach myself from the horrible news – the realization that Bill Paxton has passed away. Might it have to do with his young age, the fact that he was mere years older than me? Undoubtedly, that has to carry some weight as one’s mortality is a fear we all share but seldom with one another.
No, this is different — this is something else and as I write this, I’m still struggling to figure out exactly what that is. I’m hoping that by putting these thoughts down on paper – I can make some sense of things.
I don’t think it is greedy of me to say — I wasn’t done with Bill Paxton yet — I wasn’t finished watching him hone his craft and experiencing him bringing his art to life. I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember the first time I became aware of Bill Paxton — not the first time I noticed him but the time that I realized he was something special — someone to keep an eye on. I’m fairly certain it was his role as Private Hudson in Aliens — again don’t get me wrong — I had seen him in other films prior to that moment. Weird Science, Streets of Fire, The Terminator but it was Aliens that kind of put him on the map (at least for me) and that role has resonated throughout his career and touched the lives of generations of movie fans and that is just the beginning of a long, long list of characters he brought to life and made personal friends of mine — and every other film fan who embraced his talent.
I know I don’t need to remind any of you reading this of the streak of unforgettable characters that followed Aliens — and as I sit here typing this – my mind’s eye brings each and every one into perfect focus — how all the characters were completely different yet so much alike — Severen in Near Dark, Simon in True Lies, Fred Haise in Apollo 13, Morgan Earp in Tombstone, Bill Harding in Twister, Brock Lovett in Titanic, Hank in A Simple Plan, Dad Meiks in Frailty, Master Sergeant Farell in Edge of Tomorrow and Joe Loder in Nightcrawler. Impressive is too small a word.
Add to that his HBO series Big Love and a myriad of other TV show, mini-series and TV Movie appearances as well as a handful of director and writing credits and you have one of the most extensive resumes in entertainment history — and he was only 61. So much more talent to give – so much enjoyment and talent we have now all been robbed of.
Bill Paxton passed away today — Sunday, February 26th after complications from a heart procedure. At the time of this writing, it is being reported by numerous outlets that it was due to a stroke.
The staff of Gruesome Magazine and Horror News Radio sends their condolences to Mr. Paxton’s family and friends – and to the legion of fans, that along with us mourn the passing of a true modern film legend.