Bill Paxton, the much loved actor, director and producer, a scene stealer able to play both moral and terrible characters with a raw charm, has died at the age of 61.
Paxton had reportedly suffered from complications following surgery.
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas in 1955, Paxton frequently attended movies and other cultural events with his father and siblings from a young age. His interest in film and filmmaking started early too, studying in the UK at Richmond College where he met two friends and began making Super 8 movies upon their return to Texas.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1974 to break into the industry, and got his first job as a production assistant on an industrial film for the Encyclopedia Britannica. From there, he found work as a set dresser for Roger Corman's New World Pictures on movies such as Big Bad Mama (1974) and Eat My Dust (1976). He scored his first role, uncredited, on Jonathan Demme's Crazy Mama (1975) and decided to focus more on acting.
At 21, Paxton headed to New York to study acting with the famous Stella Adler, but though he was impressed with her methods, he dropped out after two years. Upon his return to LA, he made short film Fish Heads (1980) which debuted on Saturday Night Live, and began to land small roles while still working for Corman on movies such as Galaxy Of Terror (1981). He impressed James Cameron when they worked together on Corman films, and scored a small part as a punk who attempts to rob Arnold Schwarzenegger' killer cyborg in The Terminator (1984). The pair would go on to enjoy a fruitful collaboration (and deep friendship), with Paxton appearing in True Lies (1994), Titanic (1997) and, in possibly his most memorable and quotable role, as Private Hudson in Aliens (1986).
He enjoyed a varied career, and fans have loved his work on any number of movies including Weird Science (1985), Near Dark (1987), Predator 2 (1990), One False Move (1992), Tombstone (1993), Apollo 13 (1995), The Last Supper (1995), Twister (1996), A Simple Plan (1998), Haywire (2011), 2 Guns (2013) and Edge Of Tomorrow (2014).
Turning his hand to more work behind the camera, Paxton directed (and appeared in) the excellent thriller Frailty (2001), about a father driven to murder by what he claimed were visions. He also made golf drama The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) and had been developing a new film.
On the small screen, the actor made his mark with shows such as Big Love, Hatfields & McCoys, Miami Vice, and, more recently, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., in which he impressed as the villainous John Garrett. He was currently working on the TV version of Training Day and will be seen in technology thriller The Circle.
Jamie Lee Curtis, who co-starred with Paxton in True Lies, tweeted her sadness, writing: "Nooooo. Bill Paxton is gone. Such a funny, talented, loving human."
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who acted alongside him in Terminator and True Lies, said: "Bill Paxton could play any role, but he was best at being Bill - a great human being with a huge heart. My thoughts are with his family."
Tom Hanks, who starred alongside Paxton in Apollo 13 and the forthcoming film The Circle, said: "Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man. A wonderful man."
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer said: "I am devastated at the passing of my friend Bill Paxton. He was a tremendously talented actor and a wonderful man."
Paxton's family said in a statement: "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."
Director James Cameron emailed a statement to Vanity Fair remembering the actor, whose creative endeavors with him evolved into a 36-year friendship.
"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. 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 world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him."
Paxton was married to Louise Newbury and is survived by his two children, James and Lydia Paxton.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family.