The actor Bill Paxton, who was 61, has died due to complications from surgery, according to a statement from a representative of Paxton’s family.
“A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker,” read the statement, in part. “Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable.”
That warmth earned Paxton a career that began in B-movies, experimental film and music videos, moved through bit parts in big pictures and, ultimately, leading roles. The epitome of a working actor, he described to The Los Angeles Times his on-screen presence as that of “a very straight-looking guy, very old-fashioned.”
“I consider myself an everyman, and there will always be an underdog quality to my stuff,” Paxton told Cosmopolitan magazine in a 1995 interview.
Paxton often found a way to make these roles his own. One memorable moment? As Pvt. Hudson in James Cameron’s film “Aliens,” Paxton’s desperate, defeated whine after a spaceship crash became a catch-phrase: “Game over, man! Game over!”
Born William Paxton in Fort Worth, Texas, the actor was the son of a hardwood salesman and, he told “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross in a 2009 interview, expected that he’d follow the same path. But after taking theater classes in high school, Paxton made a decision to become an actor.
He relocated to Los Angeles when he was in his late teens. One of his first gigs was at New World Pictures as a set designer for famed B-movie producer and director Roger Corman on the Angie Dickenson movie “Big Bad Mama.” A year later, he acted in “Crazy Mama,” a New World production directed by a young Jonathan Demme.
The actor continued with set design gigs while making inroads in front of the camera. Early appearances included a starring role in “Fish Heads” (1980), a cult-classic novelty video for the music duo Barnes & Barnes, which Paxton directed and that aired on “Saturday Night Live.”
Paxton played a blue-haired punk rocker in an opening scene of “The Terminator,” a role that led to a friendship with director James Cameron and jobs in “Aliens,” “True Lies” and “Titanic.” Paxton’s acclaimed turn in “Apollo 13,” further confirmed the actor’s abilities.
He was fantastic as the trashy vampire in “Near Dark” scene stealing as the scary, and comic relief, Severin.
“Every day you’re taking a final exam as an actor,” Paxton told the late film critic Roger Ebert in 1998, while discussing his work in “A Simple Plan.”
As Hank in “A Simple Plan,” Paxton harnessed his average-Joe demeanor in service of a career-defining role alongside Billy Bob Thornton. After their two characters find millions of dollars in the woods, Paxton’s Hank endures hardships that reveal the ways in which good men can do bad things.
“I don’t play my characters with any judgment,” he told Gross. “I don’t think it’s possible to play any character with judgment.”
The actor carried that philosophy into one of his most notable performances, as Bill Henrickson in “Big Love.” As the polygamist patriarch, Paxton played a husband juggling family, work and spirituality — with three wives, a half-dozen children and a sect-wide family feud.
When “Big Love” concluded, Paxton told The Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara that he faced a hurdle. “It was the only steady job I’ve ever had as an adult,” he said. “But then nobody knew really what to do with me.”
As was always the case, though, Paxton found work. He earned an Emmy nomination in 2012 for the miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys,” and had a recurrent role in the TV series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Paxton was starring as Det. Frank Rourke in the first season of the CBS series “Training Day.” The 13 episodes finished shooting in December, with nine still set to air.
CBS and Warner Bros. Television praised Paxton’s work in a statement issued Sunday morning.
It read, in part: “Bill was, of course, a gifted and popular actor with so many memorable roles on film and television. His colleagues at CBS and Warner Bros. Television will also remember a guy who lit up every room with infectious charm, energy and warmth, and as a great storyteller who loved to share entertaining anecdotes and stories about his work.”
Paxton is survived by his wife, Louise, and two children, James and Lydia.
In this behemoth of a documentary (3 hours) we get to see everything that went into making Aliens, from the construction of the APC to the Queen her slobbering self. The doc is packed with great information on the scripting, set building, and shooting of the film, so free up a block of your time and check it out.
James Cameron has said he wants to direct the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Cameron, fresh from his solo voyage to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, spoke at the Titanic 3D premiere about his involvement in a sequel to the Alien spinoff. The Guardian UK reported: “There’s a gap of a few years between Prometheus and the original Alien,” he said. “That gap is meant for me to answer all the questions raised in Prometheus.”
If Cameron signs on for the sequel, it will be the second time he has inherited one from Scott. The director was at the helm for Aliens, the 1986 sequel to Scott’s 1979 original Alien movie. He said the idea of him making a second Prometheus movie was first mooted when he spoke with Scott during the making of Avatar.
“Ridley came to me, and he saw what I was doing [with Avatar] and the ideas I was exploring,” said Cameron. “We sat down and talked about Alien, and saw that there’s big ideas hidden in these stories. Where do we come from? What does it mean to be human? This was something that Ridley saw as original and something he wanted to be a part of.
“I’m not sure if Ridley changed his mind, because the movie [Prometheus] turned out fantastic, but it was during those early talks when he brought up the idea of me stepping in to direct a follow-up.”
Prometheus, originally planned as an Alien prequel, is now described as a film based in the universe of Alien, which will involve the discovery of the origins of the alien race that the crew of the Nostromo face in the original film. Scott’s film will see a group of scientists land on a strange planet inhabited by a lifeform that may hold the secret to the origins of mankind. But the shrieking and wailing at the end of the film’s latest trailer would suggest that – like Alien – the promise of the scientists’ discovery quickly turns sour.
There’s no official word from the studio behind Prometheus as to if or when Cameron will be officially attached to a second film. “Right now I’m working on Avatar 2,” he said. “So if Fox wants to wait … we’ll see what happens.”
Martin Charles Scorsese (born November 17, 1942) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation. He is a recipient of the AFI Life Achievemant Award for his contributions to cinema, and has won awards from the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Directors Guild of America. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for ‘The Departed’ , having been nominated a previous five times.
Scorsese’s body of work addresses such themes as Italian American identity, Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption, machismo, modern crime and violence. Scorsese is hailed as one of the most significant and influential American filmmakers of all time, directing landmark films such as ‘Mean Streets’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Goodfellas’ – all of which he collaborated on with actor and close friend Robert De Niro.
Martin Scorsese was born in New York City; where he was raised in a devoutly Catholic environment. As a boy, he had asthma and couldn’t play sports or do any activities with other kids and so his parents and his older brother would often take him to movie theaters; it was at this stage in his life that he developed passion for cinema. His initial desire to become a priest while attending Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx gave way to cinema, and, consequently, Scorsese enrolled in NYU’s University College of Arts and Science, (now known as the College of Arts and Science), where he earned a B.A. in English in 1964. He went on to earn his M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1966, a year after the school was founded.
Scorsese attended New York University’s film school (B.A., English, 1964; M.F.A., film, 1966) making the short films ‘What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?’ (1963) and ‘It’s Not Just You, Murray!’ (1964). His most famous short of the period is the darkly comic ‘The Big Shave’ (1967), which features Peter Bernuth. The film is an indictment of America’s involvement in Vietnam, suggested by its alternative title Viet ’67.
Also in 1967, Scorsese made his first feature-length film, the black and white ‘I Call first’, which was later retitled ‘Who’s That Knocking at My Door?’ with fellow student, actor Harvey Keitel, and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, both of whom were to become long-term collaborators. Even in embryonic form, the “Scorsese style” was already evident: a feel for New York Italian American street-life, rapid editing, an eclectic rock soundtrack, and a troubled male protagonist.
From there he became friends with the influential “movie brats” of the 1970s: Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. It was Brian De Palma who introduced Scorsese to Robert De Niro. During this period he worked as the assistant director and one of the editors on the documentary film ‘Woodstock’ and met actor-director John Cassavetes, who would also go on to become a close friend and mentor.
In 1972 Scorsese made the Depression-era exploition flick, ‘Boxcar Bertha’ for B-movie producer Roger Corman, who has also helped directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron and John Sayles launch their careers. It was Corman who taught Scorsese that entertaining films could be shot with next to no money or time, preparing the young director well for the challenges to come with ‘Mean Streets’ (1973). following the film’s release, Cassavetes encouraged Scorsese to make the films that he wanted to make, rather than someone else’s projects.
Championed by influential movie critic Pauline Kael, Mean Streets was a breakthrough for Scorsese, De Niro, and Keitel. By now the signature Scorsese style was in place: macho posturing, bloody violence, Catholic guilt and redemption, gritty New York locale (though the majority of Mean Streets was actually shot in Los Angeles), rapid-fire editing, and a rock soundtrack. Although the film was innovative, its wired atmosphere, edgy documentary style, and gritty street-level direction owed a debt to directors Cassavetes, Samuel Fuller, and early Jean-Luc Godard. The film was completed with much encouragement from Cassavetes, who felt Boxcar Bertha was undeserving of the young director’s prodigious talent.
In 1974, after the success of ‘The Exorcist’, actress Ellen Burstyn was allowed to choose whoever she wanted to direct her next project; she chose Scorsese to direct her in ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Although well regarded, the film remains an anomaly in the director’s early career, as it focuses on a central female character. It is a film that is used regularly as a rebuttal to those who maintain that Scorsese only makes macho movies.
Returning to Little Italy to explore his ethnic roots, Scorsese next came up with ‘Italianamerican’, a documentary featuring his parents, Charles and Catherine Scorsese. He would return with his greatest triumph…