A great actor remembered

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Barely noticed this week amidst the buzz and glitter of the film industry’s 89th Academy Awards, and the ‘craziest Oscar moment of all time’, was the passing of one of Hollywood’s finest supporting actors over the last 30 years, Bill Paxton.

Paxton appeared in more than 60 movies, mainly in supporting character roles. Beginning his Hollywood career working in the art department, Bill Paxton made his on-screen debut in 1982 with a small speaking part in the  Bill Murray comedy STRIPES. He went on to be  a regular face in movies throughout the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. His final role was in the upcoming Tom Hanks movie THE CIRCLE, set for release later this year.

Bill Paxton reliably brought an honest, ‘down on the farm’ earthiness to his roles, which I found appealing. It came as no surprise to learn he was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas.

Bill Paxton featured in four of my favourite James Cameron films –

TERMINATOR  (1984)

ALIENS  (1986)

TRUE LIES  (1994)

TITANIC  (1997)

Four years after appearing in TITANIC, he joined James Cameron on an expedition to the actual Titanic. A film about this trip, GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS, was released in 2003.  Paxton also directed two feature films himself – FRAILTY (2001) and THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED (2005).

He passed away on February 25 from complications following surgery.

R.I.P. Bill Paxton.

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*** Bonus Fact***   Bill Paxton was in the crowd when President John F. Kennedy emerged from the Hotel Texas on the morning of his assassination on November 22nd, 1963. Photographs of an eight year old Paxton being lifted above the crowd are on display at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas.

 

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4 thoughts on “A great actor remembered

  1. I also loved the role he played as Master Sergeant Farell in theTom Cruise sci-fi military-thriller EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014). He left an impressive legacy of films bearing his name.

    In the week since his passing it has come out that he suffered a stroke during heart surgery to repair a damaged valve. Apparently this damage was sustained when he was twelve years old and suffered a bout of rheumatic fever.

    Sad that he passed away in this manner at the relatively young age of 61, and by all accounts, in a state of otherwise good health and general fitness.

    The outpouring of support from fans and friends over the last week has been very fitting for a person, who according to those who knew, led a good life.

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  2. I kept thinking I’d seen him in a TV series once, but couldn’t think what. A search under “Bill Paxton TV Series” revealed all. It was quite an impressive lineup, but the one I was thinking of did come to the fore eventually. He was actually the star of Big Love, which was a compelling drama on the demands on a guy with 4 wives, and the struggle to negotiate the mores of society that surrounded him. As much as I can’t reconcile for myself the values portrayed by the series, it was brilliant in its portrayal of complex issues that some minority groups face.

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  3. Thanks Roger.

    I wasn’t aware of his role in that TV series, which apparently ran for five seasons (2006-2011) and centered on a fictional fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah that practices polygamy.

    Along with Bill Paxton, it seems the series managed to attract some other fairly impressive acting talent of the likes of Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton, Bruce Dern, Chloë Sevigny and Jeanne Tripplehorn amongst others.

    Wikipedia offered this by way of summary anaylsis –

    “The series left behind a legacy as one of television’s most complex studies of American family life. It has been the subject of seminal pieces in top academic journals, including the Columbia Law Review, Law and Contemporary Problems, and Michigan Journal of Gender & Law. Several publications listed the series’s first three seasons as among the best television of the decade 2000-09, and its final season ranked among the best-reviewed scripted series of 2011”.

    The tv series featuring Bill Paxton I was aware of is TRAINING DAY, based on the 2001 Denzel Washington movie of the same name. Paxton completed filming 13 episodes of its debut season in the months just prior to his death, with him in the morally ambiguous detective role memorably brought to life by Washington.

    That’s a series I’d watch.

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