Bill Paxton, the veteran actor who starred in Big Love and appeared in films like Aliens, Twister and Apollo 13, died Saturday following complications from surgery. He was 61.
“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” a representative for the family said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
“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.”
Though a representative for the actor did not confirm cause of death, TMZ reports that Paxton suffered a fatal stroke post-op following heart surgery.
Doug Liman, who directed Paxton in the 2014 action film “Edge of Tomorrow,” told the New York Daily News that the actor expressed concern about his surgery in late January, emailing: “Thanks for the good wishes. It will help me face this ordeal. Don’t worry ‘Sgt Farrell’ will be ready to report for duty.” Paxton was slated to reprise his character, Master Sergeant Farell, in an “Edge of Tomorrow” sequel. “Even facing major surgery, his optimism for the future was infectious,” Limon said.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1955, Paxton’s start in Hollywood came behind the camera as a filmmaker before appearing in small roles in films like Stripes, Commando and The Terminator in the first half of the Eighties.
Before achieving marquee status in blockbusters like Apollo 13 and Twister, Paxton managed to transform his secondary roles into memorable turns, like his obnoxious older brother in Weird Science, his gabby police officer in Predator 2, the marine Hudson in Aliens and a sinister vampire in Near Dark.
After appearing in a bit part as a punk in The Terminator, Paxton became a favorite of director James Cameron, appearing in small-but-memorable roles in that filmmaker’s Aliens, True Lies, Titanic and the documentary Ghosts in the Abyss. Paxton was also one of only two actors – Lance Henriksen being the other – to be killed by a Predator, a Terminator and a Xenomorph from the Alien series.
Following roles in Tombstone, Trespass, One False Move and Frank and Jesse, Paxton was cast to star in the 1995 blockbuster Twister, cementing his status from unforgettable character actor to leading man. Over the past two decades, the actor also starred in A Simple Plan, the Spy Kids series, Nightcrawler, Club Dread and Frailty, which he also directed.
Paxton will likely most be remembered for his starring role of Bill Henrickson, a modern-day polygamist living quietly in the suburbs, in the HBO drama Big Love, a role which earned Paxton three Best Actor Golden Globe nominations. The series ran for five seasons. In 2012, Paxton was nominated for an Emmy for his leading role in the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys.
Paxton was starring in the CBS reboot of Training Day at the time of his death.
“Bill Paxton was notoriously one of the nicest people in the industry. He also gave us some of the all-time most iconic movie moments,” Jordan Peele tweeted of the actor.
Several of Paxton’s co-stars also remembered the actor. Cary Elwes, who appeared as Paxton’s tornado-chasing adversary in Twister, tweeted, “Very sad to hear about Bill Paxton. His talent, enthusiasm and energy were unique.”
Rob Lowe, who played Jesse James alongside Paxton’s Frank James in Frank and James, wrote, “Devastated by the sudden loss of my close friend and one of the finest actors in the business, Bill Paxton. Renaissance man, raconteur and uniquely American national treasure. His filmography speaks for itself. His friendship was a blessing. In his memory, on this Oscar Sunday, watch One False Move or A Simple Plan to see this lovely leading man, at his finest.”