Bill Paxton’s Most Memorable Roles

Above: The star of films including Aliens, Titanic and Apollo 13 died after complications from heart surgery
Bill Paxton's Most Memorable Roles

Hollywood—and the world—has lost another mainstay this weekend. 61-year-old Bill Paxton passed away on Saturday from complications following heart surgery. Paxton was 29 before he started getting film roles, but he’s been a steady presence in supporting and starring roles ever since.

Two of Paxton’s earliest roles include a small part as a punk thug in The Terminator and the main character’s mean older brother in Weird Science. He was also a director (he directed and co-starred in Frailty opposite Matthew McConnaughey), and musician. At the time of his death, Paxton was a regular in CBS’s brand new show Training Day, a follow up series to the 2001 film of the same name. Here are five other roles that Paxton made his own:

Private Hudson
Aliens (1986)
Paxton was only at the beginning of his career when he landed the supporting role of Private Hudson in the second installment in the Alien franchise. He plays a cocky marine who calls his team a “squad of ultimate badasses”. He’s there to help Ellen Ripley fight off Xenomorphs, but he also has a realistically human side to him that is scared shitless of the aliens (and who wouldn’t be?) which makes the character more endearing and relatable than your typical solider. Paxton even won a Saturn award for Best Supporting Actor for the role.

Brock Lovett
Titanic (1997)
When it was released, Titanic became the first-ever film to gross over $1 billion in the box office. Paxton plays Brock Lovett, a treasure hunter looking for the “Heart of the Ocean” (the one Rose throws into the water at the end of the movie) in the present day underwater wreck of the Titanic. The film was just one of many Paxton worked on with director James Cameron (others include Predator 2 and True Lies).

Fred Haise
Apollo 13 (1995)
Alongside Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon, Paxton portrayed astronaut Fred Haise in the true story of the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission. After an oxygen tank explodes mid-mission the three astronauts have to figure out a way to return home safely in the small lunar module landing portion of their spacecraft. The film was a huge commercial and critical success and won Paxton and his co-stars won a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast.

Bill Harding
Twister (1997)
As storm chaser and weather reporter Bill Harding, Paxton actually hunts down tornadoes instead of running away from them. Along with Helen Hunt’s character, Harding is working on testing a new tornado tracking device called DOROTHY that will help develop more advanced storm warning systems. But they have to get the device into actual tornadoes in order the get the data they need. It wasn’t exactly a horror movie, but pretty sure tornadoes became my biggest fear after watching this when I was 11.

Bill Henrickson
Big Love (2006-2011)
In his biggest TV role, Paxton played the lead character in Big Love, HBO’s show about a Mormon family who practices polygamy. Bill Henrickson not only has three wives and nine children, but he is also a business owner and eventually a Utah Republican state senator. The show focuses on Mormonism and how it fits into a modern world when polygamy is illegal. Paxton was nominated for three Golden Globes for his role.

Tags: Big Love, Bill Paxton, film roles, RIP, Twister

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