Bill Paxton has died at the age of 61 from surgery complications, People reports. A statement from his family reads: “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. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”
Paxton, who was born in Forth Worth, Texas, got his start in the entertainment industry when he was a teenager working behind the scenes in the art department of films, he told The A.V. Club during a Random Roles interview. “I came out to Hollywood when I was just 18, and my dad, he was really into Hollywood and theater and art, and I guess growing up, he exposed me to a lot of culture, and I just started making Super-8 films in high school, and decided I wanted to be a filmmaker,” he explained. “My heroes at the time were probably guys like Clint Eastwood, who was an actor, but also a filmmaker.”
Paxton began to gain recognition in the 1980s with roles in films like John Hughes’ Weird Science, and he also struck up what would become a longtime friendship with James Cameron while working for Roger Corman. In this Grantland piece, Paxton discusses the day he and Cameron were working together on Galaxy Of Terror and Cameron told him about a screenplay he was writing about a cyborg from the future who travels back in time. That movie, of course, ended up being The Terminator, which Cameron cast Paxton in as one of the young punks that Arnold Schwarzenegger kills when he first arrives from the future.
He would repeatedly collaborate with Cameron, appearing in Aliens, True Lies, and Titanic, in which he played the diamond-obsessed explorer Brock Lovett who enlists the help of Rose DeWitt Bukater to find the Heart Of The Ocean from the wreck of the sunken ship. His other memorable movie appearances included Twister and Apollo 13, appearing alongside Kevin Bacon and Tom Hanks. In more recent years, Paxton thrived on television in the likes of HBO’s series Big Love, ABC’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys. He was starring in CBS’ Training Day at the time of his death, with one upcoming episode set to include a guest appearance from his son, James Paxton. Production on the show’s first season has already been completed.
Many fans of Paxton’s work have begun expressing their condolences on social media, with many pointing out the many cinematic heavyweights he faced off against:
Paxton’s final on-screen film role will be The Circle, starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. He is survived by his two children and his wife.