Bill Paxton, star of Big Love, Aliens, and more, dies at 61
Actor Bill Paxton has died due to complications from surgery, a representative for his family confirmed to PEOPLE. He was 61.
“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” a family representative said. “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.”
Paxton was most known for starring in films like 1986’s Aliens, 1995’s Apollo 13, 1996’s Twister, and 1997’s Titanic. As for television, he earned two Golden Globe nods for his performance in HBO drama Big Love, which he starred in throughout its five-season run from 2006 to 2011. Paxton also nabbed an Emmy nomination for playing one of the title characters in History miniseries Hatfields & McCoys in 2012.
More recently, Paxton appeared in 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow and Nightcrawler, and had roles in ABC Marvel drama Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and History miniseries Texas Rising. He also headlines Training Day, a CBS series that debuted in early February.
Following Paxton’s death, the network released a statement: “We are shocked and deeply saddened this morning by the news of Bill Paxton’s passing. Bill was, of course, a gifted and popular actor with so many memorable roles on film and television. His colleagues at CBS and Warner Bros. Television will also remember a guy who lit up every room with infectious charm, energy and warmth, and as a great storyteller who loved to share entertaining anecdotes and stories about his work. All of us here offer our deepest sympathy to his wife, Louise, and his two children.” (The network did not comment on the status of Training Day; production on the show’s first season was completed before Paxton’s death, according to Deadline.)
Born in Texas in 1955, Paxton made his first credited big-screen appearance in Bill Murray’s 1981 comedy Stripes. But it was 1985’s Weird Science that put Paxton on the map. He played bullying older brother Chet in the comedy, which John Hughes wrote and directed. “When something becomes a cultural touchstone for people, you have to embrace it,” Paxton told EW in a 2006 interview. “But to be constantly reminded of something you did 20 years ago, it can be a bit… daunting.”
The next year, Paxton starred in Aliens for director James Cameron. The actor had appeared in a small role in Cameron’s The Terminator, but the 1986 sequel marked a further step in Paxton’s breakout — and his friendship with Cameron. The filmmaker, who also directed Paxton in True Lies, Titanic, and the 2003 documentary Ghosts of the Abyss, told EW in 2006, “there’s nothing Jack Nicholson has done in his career that Bill Paxton couldn’t have done along the way. And I think Hollywood is just sort of catching up with him.”
Following Paxton’s death, numerous stars paid tribute to him on social media, including Tom Hanks, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Howard, Charlize Theron, and Rob Lowe.
HBO also released a statement about Paxton. “We are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Paxton. Big Love was a seminal series for HBO for many years due to Bill’s extraordinary talent and grace. Off screen, he was as warm, smart and fun as one could be. A true friend to so many at HBO. He will be greatly missed.”
Cameron, too, issued a statement to Vanity Fair. “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,” Cameron said, in part. “The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him.”