February 27th, 2017 | Updated on April 21st, 2023
Whether you knew him as the “Game over, man!” grunt from Aliens, the sadistic older brother of Weird Science, the polygamist patriarch on HBO’s Big Love or any of his dozens of compelling cameos or clutch supporting roles, Bill Paxton was always a reliable presence – a Texas-born utility player.
Who could go from sleazy to sympathetic, simpering to morally sound in seconds flat. The news of the 61-year-old actor’s Bill Paxton passing this morning, boiling down a list of his most essential movie and TV roles to a mere 10 is tougher than you’d think.
1. Weird Science (1985)
“Weird Science” is a 1985 American teen comedy film directed by John Hughes. The movie is about two high school nerds, Gary and Wyatt, who create their perfect woman, named Lisa, using their computer. Lisa is played by Kelly LeBrock.
As they navigate the ups and downs of teenage life, Gary and Wyatt use their newfound confidence and Lisa’s help to stand up to bullies and pursue their crushes. However, things get complicated when Lisa’s powers begin to go awry, and they must race against time to fix their creation before it’s too late.
2. Aliens (1986)
“Aliens” is a 1986 American science fiction action film directed by James Cameron and a sequel to the 1979 film “Alien”. The film stars Sigourney Weaver, reprising her role as Ellen Ripley, who returns to the planet where the alien creature was first encountered with a group of Marines to eradicate the alien threat.
The film is known for its intense action scenes and special effects, as well as its portrayal of strong female characters. Weaver’s portrayal of Ripley as a fierce and resourceful hero has been praised as a landmark role for women in action movies.
“Aliens” was a critical and commercial success, earning seven Academy Award nominations and winning two for Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. The film’s legacy has continued with numerous sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations in various forms of media.
3. Near Dark (1987)
“Near Dark” is a 1987 American horror-western film directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The movie follows the story of Caleb Colton, a young man from a small town who falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious woman named Mae. What he doesn’t know is that Mae is part of a group of nomadic vampires who roam the American Southwest.
After being bitten by Mae, Caleb is unwillingly transformed into a vampire and becomes a member of the group. He must then learn to adapt to his new life as a predator while trying to find a way to break free from the group’s violent and deadly lifestyle.
“Near Dark” is notable for its unique take on the vampire genre, blending elements of horror and westerns. It received positive reviews from critics and has since become a cult classic. The film’s dark and gritty atmosphere, as well as its portrayal of vampires as dangerous and violent creatures, have influenced subsequent vampire movies and TV shows.
4. One False Move (1992)
“One False Move” is a 1992 American crime thriller film directed by Carl Franklin and written by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson. The movie follows a trio of criminals, Ray, Pluto, and Fantasia, who commit a series of brutal murders in Los Angeles and flee to a small town in Arkansas.
The local police chief, Dale “Hurricane” Dixon, played by Bill Paxton, is obsessed with catching the criminals and teams up with two LAPD detectives to track them down. As they close in on the fugitives, they uncover secrets and betrayals that lead to a tense and violent confrontation.
“One False Move” was critically acclaimed for its intense storytelling, strong performances, and realistic portrayal of violence. The film’s exploration of themes such as morality, redemption, and the consequences of violence has earned it a reputation as a standout example of the crime thriller genre.
5. True Lies (1994)
“True Lies” is a 1994 American action-comedy film directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tom Arnold. The movie follows Harry Tasker, a secret agent for the United States government who leads a double life, keeping his true job a secret from his wife and daughter.
When Harry’s latest mission involves stopping a terrorist plot involving a stolen nuclear warhead, his two lives collide, and his family becomes embroiled in the dangerous world of espionage. The film features elaborate action sequences, including a memorable scene where Harry uses a Harrier jet to rescue his daughter from terrorists.
“True Lies” was a critical and commercial success, earning praise for its blend of action, comedy, and romance. Schwarzenegger’s performance as the suave and capable secret agent was well-received, and the film’s depiction of Middle Eastern terrorists has been a topic of discussion and controversy in the years since its release. Nevertheless, the movie remains a beloved classic of the action-comedy genre.
6. Apollo 13 (1995)
“Apollo 13” is a 1995 American space docudrama film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton. The movie tells the true story of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical malfunction in its oxygen tank and became a life-threatening crisis for the astronauts aboard.
The film chronicles the efforts of NASA ground control and the astronauts themselves to troubleshoot and solve the problems they face, as well as the emotional toll the crisis takes on their families back on Earth. The film’s suspenseful storytelling and accurate depiction of the space program’s inner workings earned it critical and commercial success.
Hanks received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance as astronaut Jim Lovell, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Ed Harris, and Best Film Editing. “Apollo 13” is widely regarded as a masterpiece of the space docudrama genre, showcasing the bravery and ingenuity of the people involved in one of the most dramatic moments in space exploration history.
7. Twister (1996)
“Twister” is a 1996 American disaster film directed by Jan de Bont and starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. The movie follows a group of storm chasers who are trying to track down and study tornadoes in the Midwest United States.
The film’s storyline centers around Jo and Bill, two former spouses who have a rivalry in their quest to launch a revolutionary new device called Dorothy that can help them gather data from inside a tornado. Along with their team, they face numerous dangerous weather conditions as they try to accomplish their mission.
“Twister” was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $494 million worldwide. It received praise for its thrilling action sequences and special effects, as well as its likable characters and memorable scenes. The movie’s impact on pop culture has been significant, and its legacy can still be seen in contemporary disaster films that follow its template of high-stakes action and natural disaster scenarios.
8. A Simple Plan (1998)
“A Simple Plan” is a 1998 American neo-noir crime thriller film directed by Sam Raimi and based on the novel of the same name by Scott Smith. The movie stars Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda and tells the story of three men who find a small airplane that has crashed in a snowy forest, with a dead pilot and a bag containing $4 million in cash.
The men, Hank, Jacob, and Lou, decide to keep the money for themselves, but their plan quickly unravels as they struggle with the consequences of their actions. Greed, betrayal, and violence ensue as they try to cover up their crime and keep their secret safe.
The film was critically acclaimed for its tense storytelling, strong performances, and themes of morality and corruption. The performances of Paxton, Thornton, and Fonda were especially praised for their nuanced and complex portrayals of flawed characters. “A Simple Plan” is often cited as one of Raimi’s best films and a standout example of the neo-noir genre.
9. Frailty (2001)
“Frailty” is a 2001 American psychological thriller film directed by Bill Paxton, who also stars in the film alongside Matthew McConaughey and Powers Boothe. The movie tells the story of a man named Fenton Meiks who approaches FBI agent Wesley Doyle and confesses that his recently deceased father was a serial killer who believed he was on a mission from God to destroy demons disguised as humans.
As Fenton recounts his childhood memories of his father’s increasingly disturbing actions, Wesley struggles with his own skepticism and the possibility that Fenton may be the killer himself. The film builds to a twist ending that challenges the audience’s perceptions of the characters and their motivations.
“Frailty” received positive reviews for its suspenseful storytelling and strong performances, particularly from McConaughey and Paxton. The movie’s exploration of religious extremism, mental illness, and the nature of good and evil has earned it a reputation as a thought-provoking and unsettling thriller. It also marked Paxton’s directorial debut and is often cited as one of his most memorable roles.
10. Big Love (2006-2011)
“Big Love” is a television drama series that aired on HBO from 2006 to 2011. Created by Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, the show stars Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Chloë Sevigny as a polygamous family living in suburban Utah.
The series explores the challenges and complexities of polygamy, as well as the family’s relationships with each other and with their community. Bill Paxton plays Bill Henrickson, a successful businessman and devout member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who is married to three wives, Barb, Nicki, and Margene.
Over the course of the show’s five seasons, the Henrickson family navigates the intricacies of polygamy and deals with conflicts both within their own family and with the wider community. The show received critical acclaim for its nuanced portrayal of polygamy, as well as the strong performances from its cast.
“Big Love” was a groundbreaking show that tackled controversial subject matter in a sensitive and insightful way, and it helped to establish HBO as a leader in original television programming.
Source: rollingstone.com, Video : Youtube.com