Bill Paxton, known for being one of James Cameron’s most used actors in films like Aliens, Titanic, True Lies, The Terminator, and many others, died today due to complications from surgery. He was 61 years old.
Paxton was an utter joy to watch on screen. He was an actor of incredible range, being able to be as dramatic as he was often comedic. Even recently he showed such versatility in films like Nightcrawler and Edge of Tomorrow. He still had greatness in him and that has been cut short.
It’s impossible to do justice to the numerous roles Paxton played that touched my life. He was the definitive horrible brother in Weird Science, the hilarious Jimmy Buffett spoof in Club Dread, an awesome villain in Near Dark, a twisted louse in The Dark Backward, and nearly all the ones I mentioned in the first paragraph and more. But, if I have to pick one film that people need to see with Paxton, it’s his directorial debut, Frailty.
Frailty is an incredibly mature, dark, and powerful story about faith, justice, and parenting that not many people talk about anymore. Paxton’s role in it is one of his most intense. If you only know him for his comedy, Frailty will make you see a completely different side of him. And his direction, especially for a debut, is incredibly assured and focused. It’s a movie that more people should know about, and if this tragic news can make a few people discover Frailty, at least something good will have come of it.
God, this one hits hard. We’ve been assailed by celebrity deaths a lot lately, and coupling this with already losing Miguel Ferrer, Mary Tyler Moore, and Richard Hatch makes it look like 2017 isn’t going to be any kinder.
But, let’s go out on a laugh. Watch Bill Paxton in one of his absolute earliest roles in the nonsensical music video/short film for the song “Fish Heads.” This never failed to put a smile on my face. I hope it does the same for you.