Ghosts of the Abyss (2003)James Cameron (center) and Bill Paxton (right)
Credit: Disney

James Cameron issued a statement on the unexpected death of Bill Paxton on Sunday.

The actor had appeared in some of Cameron’s biggest films — from The Terminator to Aliens to Titanic.

The two were also friends off screen, as Cameron details below, ever since they met while working with director Roger Corman.

“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 paint brush 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 said in a statement provided to Vanity Fair. “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. 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.”

The director added, “The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him.”

Cameron is among the many members of the Hollywood community to pay tribute to Paxton, including Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard (both of whom worked with Paxton on Apollo 13), True Lies costars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, and Charlize Theron.

Paxton died at the age of 61 due to complications from a surgical procedure.