Bill Paxton could play any character. He could play anyone, at any time, from anywhere. He was a cowboy in the old west, he was a soldier in the future fighting aliens, he was a tornado chaser, a leather clad vampire, a slimy car salesman, an obnoxious big brother, a dad burdened with the knowledge of demonic entities, a punk, et al. He could be anyone. I am one of the many kids who grew up watching Paxton give riveting performances on film, no matter how big or small the role was. Paxton was a man who could appear in any time period on film and you bought his performance and his place there.
By all accounts, Paxton was a very nice and warm man who loved his fans, and treated everyone with immense respect. I was born in 1983, so I was old enough to remember a time where Paxton was in a lot of movies, and was a constant face on film. He’d just pop up, and it was a pleasant surprise every single time. Paxton even helped invent a ton of imitators who would walk around screaming “Game over man! Game over!” over and over and over. It never got old.
Paxton was a marvelous performer, a man who gave his all from big roles in films like “Twister” to bit parts like “True Lies,” where he takes on a deceptively minor role that becomes one of the funniest bits in James Cameron’s film. Everyone has a Bill Paxton role they love in particular. He dabbled in every single genre possible, and his death will leave another humongous hole in the film world. There will never be another Bill Paxton, again, and it stings to know he won’t be there contributing to film anymore. He will, however, always live on in his performances. No matter how good or bad the movie he was in was, he always stood out and gave it his best.
Rest in peace, Mr. Paxton. Thanks for the great work, the endless memories, and for offering us some of the greatest cinematic characters of all time.
What are your favorite roles from Bill Paxton? Let us know in the comments!
5. Weird Science (1985)
One of Paxton’s earliest roles (and arguably one of his all time best) is in one of the eighties most infamous, playing Chet Donnelly, the meat head military buff who makes our protagonists lives miserable. His role here, along with being amusingly obnoxious, is also notable for being one of the most hilarious twists, as he’s transformed in to a wart filled ugly talking turd for the entirety of the film. Paxton’s turn in to the turd monster has arguably become more popular than the film as a whole. Even with some still great puppetry, Paxton’s voice work shines through to the hilarious finale.
4. Tombstone (1993)
As Morgan, Wyatt Earp’s brother, he’s thrust in to a horrible feud at Tombstone that begins taking lives and inflicting age old hatred between folks in the town. Despite Wyatt’s best efforts to keep his little brother from entering in to a war with the Clantons, people do start getting killed, and he enters in to a job as the town sheriff with old friend Virgil. Paxton portrays Morgan as someone not quite as fierce as his brother who is hopelessly scared of what’s unfolding, and eventually pays dearly in easily the most gut wrenching moment in the film. It’s hard not to get misty when Paxton declares while dying “Remember what I said about people seein’ a bright light before they die? It ain’t true. I can’t see a damn thing.”
3. Aliens (1986)
Cameron’s “Aliens” is filled with such a vast array of colorful meat heads you root for until the very end. Paxton is excellent as Hudson, a consistent complainer and tightly wound soldier who manages to spout memorable line after memorable line and he’s thrust in to some of the best moments of any action film ever made. From his back and forths with Vasquez, becoming an inadvertent subject of Bishop’s knife game, and the iconic “Game over man! Game over!” Paxton is just at his top here. Hudson is probably one of those people who thought being in the Marines would be all fun and shooting shit, and then they meet the xenomorphs.
2. Near Dark (1987)
As Severen, Paxton was one of my very first memories of what vampires are. When “Near Dark” arrived in theaters I was four and remember watching it when it came to VHS. Paxton’s performance as the vicious and horrific vampire Severen is out of this world, as he plays a monster in lust with blood who takes great joy in massacring a small bar filled with innocent patrons. With his leather jacket and spurs, Severen proceeds to destroy everyone in the place, giving special attention to the bar tender that he slashes with his spurs. Paxton as Severen is the definition of terror, and he has a good time playing this character.
1. Frailty (2001)
One of the most underrated horror movies of the early aughts (and of all time), “Frailty” is a passion project or Paxton who directed and stars. Paxton is fantastic as a widowed father whose life is changed when he alerts his two sons that he received a vision from God, who is beckoning him to hunt demons. Said demons look like everyone else, and he’s been instructed to use normal tools to find and murder them. This puts him at jeopardy with both of his sons, Fenton and Adam. While Adam is fascinated with their father’s mission to find the demons, all of whom look like seemingly harmless people, older son Fenton doubts his father’s sanity, which prompts him to begin taking action to convince his son that begins to get darker and more extreme. “Frailty” is a compelling and eerie mystery with wonderful performances all around, and a very tightly composed horror tale with two surprise twists that will likely satisfy horror fans alike. “Frailty” has sadly gone unnoticed for many years, but it’s a stellar horror entry thanks to Paxton’s top notch direction and ability to invoke mood and atmosphere.