The news report caught me off guard. I was at my desk at the office when a colleague passing by asked me if I’d heard the news that Bill Paxton had died. I had not and it hit me hard. I’d just seen him interviewed recently on my favorite local morning news program. He was there talking about his new television series, based on the film Training Day.
Most people remember him for his roles in Titanic, Twister, Apollo 13 and more recently, Edge of Tomorrow. My first thought on hearing that he had passed was the first film in which I saw him on the big screen. He was credited simply as “Soldier” in the 1980 movie Stripes.
A decade later he would play another, larger role as a military man as “Dane” in 1990’s Navy SEALs. Dane was the team’s sniper and his radio call-sign was simply “God” because he looked down on the team below him from whatever perch he could find to provide over-watch.
Just three years later he traded military uniforms and sniper rifles for a six-shooter and a badge in 1993’s Tombstone.
A year later he was behind the wheel of a classic Corvette convertible as a sleazy used car salesman in True Lies.
In 2000’s U-571, Bill once again donned the uniform of a member of the U.S. Navy to portray “Lieutenant Commander Mike Dahlgren” who was the commander of the mission to recover the German Enigma cipher machine.
We got to see Bill playing evil that very same year as industrialist “Elliot Vaughn” in Vertical Limit.
In 2011 he gave a great performance in Haywire in a small but important supporting role as the father of Gina Carano’s character. He was also terrific in 2013’s 2 Guns.
Those are the films I’ll remember him for, more than Twister and the others mentioned earlier. He will be missed.