It’s been confirmed this morning by TMZ that actor Bill Paxton has passed away at the age of 61 due to complications from heart surgery. Yesterday, there had been rumors of Paxton’s passing, although they were questioned as a possible internet hoax, as has been common these days. Paxton’s family released the following statement:
“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.”
Born in Fort Worth, Texas on May 17, 1955, Paxton established his acting career through a close early association with director James Cameron, who cast him in his 1984 breakthrough film The Terminator, then called him back for roles in Aliens (1986), True Lies (1994) and his Oscar-winning Best Picture Titanic (1997). Paxton also joined Cameron on his historic expedition to explore the remains of the Titanic, documented in 2003’s Ghosts of the Abyss. Cameron released the following statement to Vanity Fair:
“I’ve been reeling from this for the past half hour, trying to wrap my mind and heart around it. Bill leaves such a void. He and I were close friends for 36 years since we met on the set of a Roger Corman ultra-low budget movie. He came in to work on set, and I slapped a paint brush in his hand and pointed to a wall, saying ‘Paint that!’ We quickly recognized the creative spark in each other and became fast friends. What followed was 36 years of making films together, helping develop each others’ projects, going on scuba diving trips together, watching each others’ kids growing up, even diving the Titanic wreck together in Russian subs. It was a friendship of laughter, adventure, love of cinema, and mutual respect. Bill wrote beautiful heartfelt and thoughtful letters, an anachronism in this age of digital shorthand. He took good care of his relationships with people, always caring and present for others. He was a good man, a great actor, and a creative dynamo. I hope that amid the gaudy din of Oscar night, people will take a moment to remember this wonderful man, not just for all the hours of joy he brought to us with his vivid screen presence, but for the great human that he was. The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him.”
Other memorable roles include Weird Science (1985), the sequel Predator 2 (1990), the popular Western Tombstone (1993), Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (1995), and the disaster flick Twister (1996).
Paxton also established himself as a director with the 2001 thriller Frailty, co-starring Matthew McConaughey, and 2005’s The Greatest Game Ever Played, starring Shia LaBeouf. One of his odder credits was directing and starring in the music video for Barnes & Barnes cult classic “Fish Heads,” which played on Saturday Night Live and became a popular favorite of the Dr. Demento radio show.
He also starred in the HBO series Big Love and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. More recently, Paxton was cast as the starring role of Detective Frank Roarke in the brand new CBS television show Training Day, set 15 years after the film of the same name. The first season just began airing earlier this month.
HBO released the following statement: “We are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Paxton. Big Love was a seminal series for HBO for many years due to Bill’s extraordinary talent and grace. Off screen, he was as warm, smart and fun as one could be. A true friend to so many at HBO. He will be greatly missed.”
CBS and Warner Bros. Television released this statement: “We are shocked and deeply saddened this morning by the news of Bill Paxton’s passing. Bill was, of course, a gifted and popular actor with so many memorable roles on film and television. His colleagues at CBS and Warner Bros. Television will also remember a guy who lit up every room with infectious charm, energy and warmth, and as a great storyteller who loved to share entertaining anecdotes and stories about his work. All of us here offer our deepest sympathy to his wife, Louise, and his two children.”
Bill Paxton is survived by his wife of thirty years, Louise Newbury, with whom he had two children.