We Snooty Ushers, like the rest of the film fans out there, were saddened with the news of Bill Paxton’s untimely passing. But rather than mourn, we’re going to celebrate his colourful career by looking back on our favourite roles from the man who has met his demise at the hands of a Terminator, an Alien, and a Predator.
His most quotable character, Private Hudson was an over confident colonial marine who ended up proclaiming “Game over man, game over” after their one avenue of rescue was destroyed. However despite this, unlike some of his fellow marines, Hudson went down in a blaze of glory before being sucked under the floor by rampant xenomorphs. Back when Kenner used to do the toy lines for the film franchise, Hudson wound up being the first ever figure I had. True Story.
If there is one role that could pip his role of Hudson for sheer enjoyment it has to be the character of Simon in James Cameron’s spy action comedy True Lies. Whilst Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the absent husband fulfilling his spy duties, Bill Paxton’s Simon is off trying to rope his wife Helen (Jame Lee Curtis) into bed pretending he himself is a secret agent. Simon is however, a sleazy as sin used car salesman. Paxton is hilarious in the role, delivering 100% sleaze with zeal.
In his fantastic directorial debut, Paxton played the role of a father who claimed he was visited by an angel who tasked he and his kids to rid the world of demons disguised as humans. It’s a smaller role than we’re used to seeing from him but it’s a good un. But more importantly if you haven’t seen Frailty, get it in your eyes.
If there is a role that embodies how willing Paxton was to have a bit of fun in films then it is that of Coconut Pete in horror comedy spoof Club Dread. Whereas the Broken Lizard troop take up the main roles in the film which takes place on a holiday resort close to Costa Rica, Paxton is the washed out musician who owns the resort known as Pleasure Island. He also has a smash hit known as Pina Coldaburg…The film wasn’t received very well, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
One False Move (1992) – Dale ‘Hurricane’ Dixon
Bill Paxton is brilliant as the obnoxious larger than life small town Sheriff who is excited by the fact that some escaped criminals are headed to his town. As The LAPD detectives work the case they find that the Sheriff maybe involved with one of the convicts. Paxton is on full on showman form here as his outwardly pompous Dixon hides a darker truth. This is a gem of a film that went straight to video in the early 90s and found an audience, becoming a cult classic with Paxton’s performance the driving reason behind that.
A Simple Plan (1998) – Hank Mitchell
Sam Raimi directed this brilliant neo-noir thriller. Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton are reunited from One False Move, this time as brothers who discover a crashed airplane filled with cash and run into trouble when they decide to keep the money. While Thornton’s role got all the attention as the socially inept Jacob, it’s Paxton’s Hank who holds the film together. He portrays a good man faced with a life changing decision and while he does some terrible things, you are on his side. Billy Bob Thornton was nominated for an Academy Award for his role, but that wouldn’t have been possible without Paxton’s performance anchoring the film.
Twister (1996) – Bill Harding
A fun disaster movie about a group of storm chaser, who are trying to gather information how twisters are formed. Paxton plays Bill “The Extreme” Harding. The former leader of the group who is now attempting to re-marry and live a normal life. This is the type of everyman performance that is can do in his sleep. He makes Bill a very likeable hero and along with Helen Hunt, elevate this above what could so easily have been a Hallmark channel movie.
Vampires used to be scary, and Paxton played one back when that used to be the case. In Katheryn Bigelow’s second film he played Severen, one part of a nomadic group of vampires alongside Lance Henriksen and Jenette Goldstein. Severen is a touch unhinged in this revisionist vampire tale set in a western locale, but he is one of the best elements of the film.
You might be forgiven if you forgot Bill Paxton had a role in the 80s classic Weird Science, but he did. In the film he plays Chet, Wyatt’s older douche bag brother who extorts him to keep silent about his and Gary’s mischievous actions. Chet though gets his comeuppance towards the end of the film as Kelly Le Brock turns him into a giant talking turd, which is a prosthetic pleasure.
The Terminator was the first film to start off the incredible achievement that left Paxton as one of only two men to have been killed by a Terminator, an Alien, and a Predator in films throughout his career. You’ll have to pay attention in James Cameron’s breakout film because his role is quite small, but important. Because if it weren’t for Bill Paxton’s punk gangs clothes then Arnie might have been walking round butt naked for a bit longer. If only he used his ridiculous blue hair too.
Bill Paxton, the Snooty Ushers salute you.
Bill Paxton 1955-2017