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Bill Paxton, Gone Too Soon

Bill Paxton was a constant ball of energy and talent and his smile lit up any room he was in. And when we woke up for Oscar Sunday, we were all devastated by the news that he’d been taken from us too soon at age 61.

Let’s take a look back at some of the light Paxton brought into our lives with these memorable roles.

 

BILL HENRICKSON | BIG LOVE (2006 – 2011)

Before plural marriage was the controversial subject matter of a reality TV show, it was the controversial subject matter of a fantastic HBO drama lead by Paxton, who was nominated for a Golden Globe three times for his part. In his stead, the Henrickson family taught us love, loyalty, patience and even tolerance amid storylines that involved everything from young love and homosexuality to politics and violence. They made it possible to root for polygamists and even love them despite their many, many flaws.

 

DAD MEIKS | FRAILTY (2001)

Paxton also directed Frailty, an under-appreciated horror film about the strange relationship between two young boys and their fanatically religious father, who believes that he has been commanded by God to kill demons disguised as people. It was well received by press and holds up rather well in these troubled times.

In fact, it’s alarmingly timely.

 

BILL HARDING | TWISTER (1996)

Twister is one of those “guilty pleasure” movies you often come across flipping channels on a weekend afternoon that you have to finish watching. Oh sure, the cow provides the most talked-about moment in the film, but it holds up as a matinee action flick and Paxton, as a storm chaser torn between conflicting impulses toward safety and adventure and his feelings for the women in his life, is the icing on the cake.

 

SIMON | TRUE LIES (1994)

With only a small chunk of screen time as a used car salesman masquerading as a spy to lure in lonely women (and who wets himself under pressure), Paxton became the film’s most beloved character.

 

MORGAN EARP | TOMBSTONE (1993)

Everyone who watches this movie roots for Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday but they fall in love with misguided-but-sweet Morgan Earp portrayed by Paxton. He backs his brothers to the end and we he ultimately takes a fatal bullet, it’s heartbreaking.

 

JACK BELSTON | INDIAN SUMMER (1993)

A group of ex-campers, now in their twenties, return to their old summer camp for a reunion. In a role he’s not since come close to copying in genre, Paxton demonstrates that he is a capable physical comedian as “Belston.”

 

PRIVATE WILLIAM HUDSON | ALIENS (1986)

In Aliens, Paxton, who played the anxious, trigger-happy Private Hudson, was given one of cinema’s most famous catchphrases in history: “Game over, man. GAME OVER!” The film also added to his prestigious movie death repertoire – on screen he’s been killed by a Terminator, a Predator and a Xenomorph.

 

CHET DONNELLY | WEIRD SCIENCE (1985)

Who didn’t love to hate this menacing, malicious, gassy older brother that took delight in tormenting little brother Wyatt? And who didn’t also love it when fantasy girl Lisa turned Chet into a shit-covered lizard troll?

 

Paxton’s career included several iconic films – not limited to the ones listed here, of course – and for a few more weeks there is more of him to come — we can tune into CBS to see him on CBS’ Training Day. No doubt he’ll always live on in those channel-surfing Saturday moments.

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