The prolific genre-favorite actor and James Cameron favorite died from complications after surgery. He was 61.
The Paxton family released the following statement through a representative –
It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery. 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 moved from Texas to Los Angeles in 1974 at the age of 18 to pursue a career in acting. This led to a job with B-movie legend Roger Corman working as a set dresser, often working under Corman’s art director, James Cameron. This led to his first film role, an uncredited part in the Corman-produced, Jonathan Demme-directed Crazy Mama.
Thus Paxton’s career began in earnest soon after, with small roles in television series and movies such as Stripes and Streets of Fire.
In 1984, he was cast in the small role a punk in his friend Cameron’s Terminator. This would lead to a recurring on-screen partnership as Cameron would cast Paxton three more times in roles big and small–in 1986’s Aliens, 1994’s True Lies and 1997’s Titanic. The last film also spawned an expedition to the real Titanic by Paxton and Cameron, which was captured in the 2003 documentary, Ghost of the Abyss. Cameron would also direct music videos for Paxton’s band, Martini Ranch.
After Terminator, Paxton’s career started to take off. The very next year, Paxton appeared in pivotal roles in Weird Science and Commando. This was followed in 1987 with a role in the cult favorite Near Dark and in 1989 in Next of Kin.
In 1990, he appeared in another Roger Corman production, Brain Dead. This film is notable for two reasons. First, it was the one on-screen pairing between Paxton and an actor he is often confused with, Bill Pullman. Second, it was the first on-screen role for Paxton’s father James, who began a sporadic career as an actor, reteaming with his son in Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan, which led Raimi to cast the elder Paxton in his Spider-Man films as the Osborn family’s manservant..
From there. Paxton landed roles in films such as Navy Seals, Predator 2 (entering him in the exclusive club as an actor who faced off against a Terminator, an Alien xenomorph, and a Predator), One False Move, Tombstone, Apollo 13, and Mighty Joe Young.
Paxton made his directorial debut in 1980, directing the trippy video for Barnes & Barnes song, Fish Heads. His feature film directorial debut would come 21 years later with Frailty. His second effort would come four years later with The Greatest Game Ever Played.
In the 2000’s, Paxton turned his attention to television, playing the lead in the HBO series Big Love. He then starred in the History Channel miniseries’ Hatfields & McCoys (for which he received an Emmy nomination) and Texas Rising. He also played a villain in the first season of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
His last television role was playing Detective Frank Rourke in the CBS series adaptation of the film, Training Day. The show is currently in its first season, having debuted earlier this month. His last film role will be in The Circle, which is set to hit theaters on April 28,2017.