In a statement to Vanity Fair, Cameron wrote, “The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him.”
“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 paintbrush in his hand and pointed to a wall, saying ‘Paint that!’ We quickly recognized the creative spark in each other and became fast friends.”
Cameron would later cast Paxton in a series of small but memorable, cult classic parts in several of his films: A punk with a tattooed face in The Terminator, Hudson in Aliens, con man Simon in True Lies and a treasure hunter in Titanic.
“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,” Cameron continued.
“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.”
Paxton died this weekend following complications from surgery. The actor’s Apollo 13 director Ron Howard and co-star Tom Hanks also remembered Paxton in separate tweets.
“Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man. A wonderful man,” Hanks wrote, while Howard tweeted of Paxton, “A gr8 talent & spirit. His passion contributed so much 2 #Apollo13 & all his wrk. We’ll miss the hell out of U Bill.”
Watch our video tribute to Bill Paxton below.