William “Bill” Paxton (born May 17, 1955) is an American actor and film director. He gained popularity after starring roles in the films Apollo 13, Twister, Aliens, True Lies, and Titanic. Paxton starred in the HBO series Big Love (2006–2011).
Paxton was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of Mary Lou (née Gray) and John Lane Paxton, a businessman, lumber wholesaler, museum executive, and occasional actor. He was in the crowd waving when President John F. Kennedy emerged from the Hotel Texas in Ft. Worth, Texas, on the morning of his assassination, November 22, 1963. Paxton attended St. Anne’s Catholic School, Arlington Heights High School (Fort Worth, Texas), and Southwest Texas State University.
Paxton had minor roles in the early 80’s movies Stripes (1981), The Lords of Discipline (1983), Streets of Fire (1984), The Terminator (1984), Commando, and Weird Science (both 1985), before landing his scene stealing role as Hudson “Game over man, game over!”, in Aliens (1987). I then saw him in the excellent vampire/western horror film, Near Dark (1986), as Severen, one of a gang of nomadic vampires. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and featuring Lance Henriksen, Jeanette Goldstein and Adrian Pasdar . The story follows a young man in a small midwestern town who becomes involved with a family of nomadic American vampires.
Paxton had major roles in Brain Dead (1990), One False Move, Trespass (both 1990), and Tombstone (1993) before gaing major recognition co-starring in the huge hit Apollo 13 (1995). He followed that success with Twister (1996), Titanic (1997) and leading roles in A Simple Plan (1998). The Sam Raimi directed suspense drama is not as well known as his major work (Evil Dead, Spider-Man trilogy), however it is probably his best film, and Bill Paxton’s best major role. Co-star Billy Bob Thornton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and Scott Smith was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Several prominent critics praised the film for its complexity and taut suspense (four stars from Roger Ebert and Critic’s Choice from The New York Times).
In 1998 he also appeared in the remake of Mighty Joe Young, before roles in U-571, and Vertical Limit (both 2000). Four years after appearing inTitanic, he joined James Cameron on an expedition to the actual Titanic. A film about this trip, Ghosts of the Abyss, was released in 2003. He has since featured in Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003), Club Dread, Thunderbirds (both 2004), and the HBO series Big Love between March 2006 and March 2011. The show is about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah that practices polygamy. Big Love featured a fantastic cast, Bill paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Amanda Seyfried, Douglas Smith, Bruce Dern, Grace Zabriskie, Mary Kay Place, Matt Ross, and Cassi Thomson.
In 2011, he featured in Steven Soderbergh’s under-rated action thriller Haywire, and directed the short film Tattoo. Paxton has also directed a the short film Fish Heads (1980), which aired during Saturday Night Live’s 1980-1981 season. He directed the feature films Frailty (2001), and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005).