This afternoon, I was watching Aliens— comparing the older Special Edition DVD’s color correction with the less pleasing ‘teal and orange’ color correction of the Alien Anthology Blu-ray– and briefly staring at my laptop when I read of Bill Paxton’s passing.
At the moment I read that startling headline, I glanced up at my TV only to see one of Paxton’s closeups on the screen.
What an odd, sad coincidence, I immediately thought.
I’m not usually one to mourn people I’ve never met, but when I found out this afternoon that Bill Paxton had passed away, I have to admit, I really felt stunned…and quite sad. Like most of us, I only knew the man through his work, but, perhaps due to his everyman screen persona, I felt like I really knew him. And not only knew him, but liked him.
The first time I remember noticing Bill Paxton onscreen was his small role as a sadistic military academy cadet in The Lords Of Discipline…
…on Videodisc, no less (this was sometime in 1984, when I was a Freshman in high school). Along with the rest of the cast, Paxton’s performance left a vivid impression.
By the time I’d seen The Terminator and Streets Of Fire, I knew him by name.
Weird Science, Aliens and, finally, Near Dark, cemented him as one of my favorite new character actors.
One False Move, Traveller and A Simple Plan each gave him the opportunity for more serious, less flashy, but emotionally satisfying lead roles.
Paxton’s feature film directorial debut, Frailty, remains one of the best movies I’ve seen since the year 2000.
So many memorable performances, so many terrific movies. He will be missed.