Bill Paxton may be gone, but his iconic performances will be with us forever. The beloved star of the big and small screen was known for his trademark Texas delivery, and remarkable ability to elevate every role, no matter how small.
From his early days playing characters like Chet in Weird Science or Pvt. Hudson in Aliens, Paxton never failed to chew the scenery. And over the course of his 40-year career, Paxton amassed a resume chock full of ever-quotable characters.
Let’s look back at Bill Paxton’s most quotable performances…
“That’s it, man. Game over, man. Game over!”
Pvt. Hudson in Aliens: The most important role of Bill Paxton’s early career is his portrayal of Pvt. Hudson in 1986’s Aliens. The Xenomorph-battling, trigger-happy Colonial Marine who rattles off nervous quip after nervous quip. Hudson pays the ultimate price, becoming a host for a chestburster alien, but not before uttering a series of unforgettable catchphrases including, “Game over, man! Game over!” after the crew’s dropship crashes and explodes.
“Seeing her coming out of the darkness like a ghost ship, it still gets me every time.”
Brock Lovett in Titanic: Brock Lovett, Bill Paxton’s character in Titanic, is analogous to the film’s director James Cameron. As the leader of the treasure-hunting mission, Lovett is obsessed with finding the Heart of the Ocean. That’s the massive jewel which serves as our gateway into the story of Jack and Rose. Lovett’s obsession with the jewel is not unlike Cameron’s obsession with the Titanic shipwreck itself, the inspiration for his 1997 blockbuster. Paxton’s character became quotable before the movie even came out, as his line about seeing the ship for the first time is a key moment in the trailer.
“We keep odd hours.”
Severen in Near Dark: Near Dark is, arguably, the best vampire movie ever made. And Bill Paxton’s maniacal Severen is one of the greatest villainous vampires in screen history. Paxton plays the role with gleeful evil. He’s like an immortal Joker that loves to taunt his prey. And his final showdown features some of the coolest gore effects in the entire film. Even though Paxton was primarily known for being affable in his comedic and dramatic work, Near Dark proves that he could also be scary and unhinged. It’s a role that only further solidified his excellence and range as an actor.
“Only demons should fear me. You’re not a demon, are you?”
Dad Meiks in Frailty: It’s amazing to look at Frailty now and see how powerful Bill Paxton would become as a performer. Considering that he was an actor mostly known for supporting roles, his lead performance as Dad in Frailty shows off something sad and terrifying in him. His utter devotion to his holy crusade is unnerving in a way you don’t ever see with Paxton’s other roles. He’s both pitiful and horrible at the same time. It’s a standout in his career that doesn’t get the praise it truly deserves. If you seek out nothing else of his work, look for Frailty. It doesn’t hurt that he directed the film as well and did a damn good job.
Coconut Pete in Club Dread: Super Troopers may be the most popular of the Broken Lizard joints, but Club Dread has always been a favorite. A lot of that has to do with how gut-bustingly funny Bill Paxton is as the aged beach bum musician Coconut Pete. Pete is wonderfully spaced out and scummy, and the numerous songs that were made for the movie are goofy delights that always bring a smile. Paxton has said that filming Club Dread was one of his most beloved experiences as an actor and it shows on screen. If you’d like to smile, Coconut Pete has the cure for what ails ya.
“I will laugh so hard, my stomach will burst open and spray bile all over the stage!”
Gus in The Dark Backward: The Dark Backward is a brazenly weird movie, and Paxton’s performance as the trash-loving Gus is equally as bizarre. Armed with an accordion and a love of everything vile, Gus accompanies his friend Marty – a failing comedian who has inexplicably grown a third arm out of his back – on a trip through the grungy world of show business. It’s a purposefully repulsive and demented comedy and Paxton matches the tone beat for beat. A cult classic worth hunting down.
“Remember what I said about seeing a light when you’re dying? It ain’t true. I can’t see a damn thing.”
Morgan Earp in Tombstone: Paxton’s death makes this moment from Tombstone difficult to watch, but it’s impossible not to recognize as one of his most memorable big-screen moments. Tombstone would not be the ultimate Western of the 1990s without Paxton and his portrayal of Wyatt Earp’s idealistic little brother, Morgan. It’s one of the most quotable films of the era, thanks mostly to Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday, but Paxton is not to be outdone.
“Honey, this is a tissue of lies.”
Bill Harding in Twister: Twister is an important movie because it kicked-off the resurgent disaster movie trend in 1996. It’s an even more important movie because it features Bill Paxton acting smarmy and yelling a lot. Paxton plays Bill “the Extreme” Harding, a stormchaser and inventor who is nearly divorced from his wife Jo as the two are thrown together in a dangerous weather scenario which includes flying cows that, of course, brings them back together.
“How ’bout a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?”
Chet in Weird Science: When it comes to cinematic big brothers, you can’t start the conversation without talking about Chet. Paxton’s greasy, macho dirtbag is one of the all-time great sleazebags in film comedy. And when he finally gets his comeuppance, it’s glorious. The spud-like toad creature that Chet is transformed into is one of the unsung awesome creatures from ‘80s cinema. If anything proved that Paxton could do anything, it was Weird Science. You could hate him just as easily as you could love him. That takes real talent.
Drew Dietsch contributed to this post.