A Few Words on Bill Paxton

Podcast Producer Thom Hetherington pays tribute to the acclaimed character actor, who sadly passed away at the age of 61 this weekend.

When I was nine years old, most of my friends wanted to be Michael Owen or David Beckham. When I was nine years old, I wanted to be Bill Paxton. See, when I was nine years old, Bill Paxton was Jeff Tracy. Bill Paxton was the very definition of cool. He ruled International Rescue with a Southern twang and extreme swagger. He was the ultimate Dad (who else gave their sons a spaceship each?) and the definitive badass.

Whilst for me he’ll always be Jeff Tracy; to many, Paxton will never be forgotten, or bested, for his role as Private Hudson in Aliens. He brought life to another gung-ho marine and stood tall in a cast full of peppy, unique performances. Aliens was one of Paxton’s many, many contributions to pop culture. His collaborations with James Cameron made them the De Niro and Scorsese of spectacle filmmaking. He brought weight and gravitas as Master Sergeant Farell in Edge of Tomorrow, handing Tom Cruise his bottom with a hammy delight. He dug up love stories from the bottom of the ocean in Titanic, went to space in Apollo 13, and was fabulous in the brilliantly barmy Twister. Paxton was the definitive bad guy in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD too, brightening up the screen, being the crown jewel of the show’s best storyline. He was, and still is, the only man to be killed by the Predator, the Xenomorph and the Terminator. As a key part of pop culture, his place is absolutely undeniable.

Bill Paxton didn’t just get the good roles, he owned them. He always buzzed up the screen no matter how good the material was; whatever a film was doing around him, Paxton was always enjoyable to watch, and more often than not, the best thing in it. It’s a skill that shouldn’t be underestimated. And neither should his work. People will be quoting Private Hudson and watching Bill Paxton films until the cows come home (or spinning around in a tornado). And so they should.

Bill Paxton – 1955-2017


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