Hollywood lost a legend this past week. Suffering a stroke, following heart surgery, Bill Paxton, Hollywood’s go-to everyman, goofball, and more often than not– douchebag, died at 61. The film star is survived by his wife of 30 years, two children, and a decades-long career of cinema classics. To honour this beloved character actor, let’s count down Bill Paxton’s Top 5 Greatest Roles.
5. Bill Henrickson (Big Love)
When we think of Bill Paxton, most don’t picture a leading man. But for 5 years, the secretly expansive Henrickson family, headed by patriarch Bill, had us relating and sympathizing with polygamists for 5 great seasons on HBO. The role was a huge departure for Paxton, normally known for his more lighthearted comic relief roles, leading an ensemble cast in a hard-hitting drama about family, faith, and keeping three wives happy. The show earned Paxton 3 Golden Globe nominations, and a reevaluation from a lot of longtime critics.
4. Bill Harding (Twister)
Okay, it’s not an “iconic” role, or even an awesome movie, but Twister is a classic, and everyone loves the scene with the cow flying across the road. Paxton and Helen Hunt star in this (oh, so 90s) actioner about storm chasers trying to launch their research device into an F5 tornado. It’s ham as can be, but Paxton and Hunt share a real chemistry, and help elevate this popcorn flick to classic status. It’s also still a show at Universal Studios, which is kind of awesome. Paxton himself does the intro video.
3. Mr. Meiks (Frailty)
This one is definitely the left field entry. Frailty was Paxton’s directorial debut, and while it wasn’t exactly a box office giant, it hit a chord with critics, hailing Paxton as a visionary director, and the film as a testament to his talent. The story itself, centering around a working father (Paxton) who receives a message from God telling him to kill demons, is a dark, twisted tale of psychological torture, family values, and faith in a vengeful God. Personally, it may be my favourite Paxton film, if only for how impressively different it is.
2. Simon (True Lies)
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. You know what this is about… Pussy, right? Simon, the used car salesman/phony secret agent is one of Paxton’s most entertaining roles. The slimy greseball seduces lonely housewives with stories of his top secret escapades as an international spy and assassin. All goes well until he moves in on Arnie’s woman. Hilarity ensues as Simon is left begging for his life, wetting himself, and droning on about his tiny dick. It’s great. This would be Paxton’s third role in a James Cameron film, but not his last.
1. Private Hudson (Aliens)
There was never really any question about this one. Aliens is hands down one of the best sequels of all time, and Paxton’s Privat Hudson is no doubt one of the most iconic (if divisive) aspects of the sci-fi classic. People can never seem to agree if his performance is illusively brilliant, or obnoxiously annoying. I say, why not both? Hudson is the ultimate badass. State of the badass art. He talks big, cracks wise, and whines like a child when confronted with aliens ready to stop his grinnin’ and drop his linen. Hudson dies tragically, blasting away at aliens until he’s dragged away from beneath. His death marks him as the first character in film to be killed by both a Terminator and an Alien (later, he would also claim the spot as the first killed by both those and a Predator). Love it or hate it, his legacy lives on in the Alien franchise for one scene and one scene alone. Say it with me now…
“That it’s man. Game over, man. Game over!”