Apollo 13 was probably the first time I saw Bill Paxton in a movie, but undoubtedly it was Aliens, one of my favorite films ever, that really left an impression. Paxton nailed the role as Private Hudson. You could tell that Hudson was self-appointed class clown, that his jokes didn't always land, but that he relished bringing the sarcasm and humor to the situtiation. Yet, his characters clearly respected him. Staff Sergeant Apone as well needs somebody to butt heads with. And of course, possibly the most iconic line of the film, and one of the most iconic science-fiction lines ever was Hudson's.
Notice how he's not even the focus of the camera in this scene and still Paxton steals the moment for himself. But Bill Paxton was always an actor you enjoyed on screen. It's telling, in my mind at least, that he always showed up in my favorites, even in bit parts.
Bill Paxton died last weekend due to complications from heart surgery. For some reason that hit me in a variety of ways. For starters, he was a young guy. Both of my parents are older than him, and recently I'm starting to see more and more people younger than them pass away. That's scary. It's made me come to realize that I don't think I am as prepared for that as I'd like to hope I am. And from complications to surgery. I've had surgery a few times now, and I'm always am looking towards waking up. There's something shocking and awkward about dying when you don't even realize it's happening.
With his unfortunate passing, I've realized there is a lot more Bill Paxton I haven't seen. I balked when it was announced that he was leading a Training Day television series based on the film. But that wasn't because he was replacing Denzel and more because I'm bored of remakes.
The two last performances I saw from Paxton were as Joe Loder in Nightcrawler and as Master Sergeant Farrell in the criminally overlooked Edge of Tomorrow. Paxton in Nightcrawler showed me a side I'd never seen. He was emotionally detached, cruel, and callous. But he didn't lean into it at all. You could tell this person was kind of an asshole but was charming enough to get far in life regardless. He made someone that arrogant real.
But Paxton was great in Edge of Tomorrow. It is classic Paxton. The role is for the most part small. Yet he makes it a memorable and fun character. There is a charm and quick wit unique to him. Who else could deliver this line so well?
Sure, many other actors could have delivered that line. But that subtle smirk and relish Paxton gives him means he was born for this role - not because it defined his career, but because only he could do it so well.
Paxton is an actor who regularly showed up in films I loved, but I'm realizing now that I haven't seen enough of his stuff. It's time to rectify that. I hope his family and friends find comfort in their time of sorrow because this is an actor who died far too young.