Bill Paxton, one of the most charismatic, memorable, and watchable actors of our lifetime, has sadly passed away at the age of 61 from complications due to surgery. The Texas native first broke out with his unforgettable turn as Chet in the 1985 comedy Weird Science, and then solidified his versatility with yet another unforgettable turn in James Cameron’s high-profile sci-fi sequel Aliens, coining the phrase (and line-reading) “Game over, man! Game over!” for generations to come.
It wasn’t just Paxton’s charm and dynamism that made him memorable—he was a genuinely talented performer who could inflect his voice or body language to tremendously telling results. He’s just at home playing the coward in Cameron movies like Aliens and True Lies as he is playing the hero in Jan de Bont’s thrilling 1996 disaster pic Twister.
It’s impossible to single out Paxton’s best role—from Near Dark to Apollo 13 to A Simple Plan, he was always surprising audiences with something different, something interesting. Even in recent years, turns in films like Nightcrawler, Edge of Tomorrow, and Steven Soderbergh’s underseen Haywire continued to be scene-stealing performances despite the fact that Paxton was filling a supporting role.
Paxton also ventured behind the camera to impressive results, with his 2001 directorial debut Frailty outing him as a serious talent in handling a chilling tone and complex narrative. Most recently, Paxton was co-starring on the CBS series Training Day filling the role played by Denzel Washington in the feature film, and he has a role in the upcoming film The Circle.
Bill Paxton transcended the “character actor” moniker to become a leading man in his own right, albeit one that eschewed the blandness and predictability that so often permeates Hollywood’s stars. He was—and still is—a towering talent who will never be forgotten, and his extensive filmography basically offers a grab-bag of great and interesting films and roles. This one hurts.
Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Paxton’s family and friends during this difficult time.