Underrated Actors: Bill Paxton

Some actors, no matter how good they are in nearly every movie, don’t get the credit they deserve when compared to globally popular movie icons. In the first of a series of articles that delve into these under appreciated men and women’s filmograpies, who work so hard in the movies we love, I will be going over the sadly departed Bill Paxton’s most memorable roles.

The Terminator -1984


Paxton’s first role in what went on to become a massive hit. Though its a very small speaking role of  the Punk leader of, well a group of punks. After rather foolishly trying to mug a cyborg from the the future wearing a very naked Arnie suit, Bill is quickly disposed of, but its his cocky punk attitude that is remembered and carries through a lot of his work in the 80s.

Weird Science -1985weird-science-quote

Taking the antagonist role in Weird Science, Paxton focuses all the obnoxiousness he has in his body, resulting in the personification of the worst older brother ever. Paxton revels in such an absurdly unpleasant character that is Chet, and manages to shine as an actor even when he inexplicably gets transformed into a messed up frog creature.

Aliens -1986


Arguably the role that Bill Paxton is most remembered for. He steals the already near perfect show as the motor-mouthed, “ultimate badass” pvt William Hudson. Paxton ad-libs many of the movies most memorable lines such as the ‘Game over’ rant and Hudson’s character adds so much to the movie that when he isn’t in the latter parts, it kinda suffers for it.

Near Dark -1987

Paxton Near Dark

Now Near Dark is not a perfect film. The unoriginal pretty boy meets mysterious vampire girl trope feels worn out even in the 80s. But what elevates the film above that though is the performance of Paxton as the sinister vampire Severen. Chewing up the scenery as well as the necks of terrified bar patrons, Severen is one of the coolest vampires ever to grace the genre.

Predator 2 -1990


Predator 2 failed to match the fun and action of the first film, and Bill Paxton is basically playing Hudson in Aliens again, but that’s never really a bad thing as he is so entertaining when he does so. Detective Jerry Lambert allows Paxton to complete the trifecta of being the only man who has been killed by a Terminator, Alien and Predator so i guess we can be thankful for that.

Tombstone -1993


A change of type for Paxton in the western, Tombstone. While playing the youngest of the Earp brothers Morgan, he shows his more classically heroic side. Morgan isn’t the biggest player in the movie, or even the Earp family,but his value as a good man in the dangerous outlaw ridden town is so important as [spoilers] his death is the catalyst for pushing Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp over the edge.

True Lies -1994


Now although greasy car salesman Simon isn’t as clearly villainous as Severen and Chet, he almost certainly is the most slimy and sleazy of all the characters Paxton has played. Making the mistake of trying to embark on an affair with a spy’s wife, with that spy turns out to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not the smartest move. True Lies is a forgotten gem of the action comedy genre and Bill Paxton’s weasel like performance is a great highlight.

Apollo 13 -1995


The mid to late nineties were good to Bill Paxton in a different way to 80s. Apollo 13 pushed Paxton’s ability to shine in ensemble casts into the mainstream away from horror and Sci-fi. Being able to stand out in a cast that included Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris, who are all scene stealer’s themselves is a testament to how far Paxton had come. Even though people still keep mistaking him for Bill Pullman.

Twister -1996

Twister - 1996

A Leading role alongside Helen Hunt came along with Twister. Ill be honest, I find it hard to remember much about this movie other than the cow in a hurricane. Its not that good of a movie and I keep getting it mixed up with Dante’s Peak somehow, even if the natural phenomenon is different. Anyways its Bill Paxton’s first big lead role as thee handsome storm-chaser Bill Harding so that’s how it makes the list.

Titanic -1997


I reckon everyone forgets that Paxton is in this. mainly because the main story is told in the flash back of an elderly Titanic survivor Rose, who has some sort of love affair with some guy named Jack or something. This takes us away from the story of  intrepid treasure hunter Brock Lovett (played by Paxton) on a quest to find the heart of the sea gem. Turns out it was never on the Titanic as it went down, instead Rose had it the whole time and chucks it in the ocean at the end…the cheeky bitch.

Frailty -2001


Frailty is probably as underrated a film as Bill Paxton was as an actor. Not only is Bill fantastic as a mentally disturbed father who believes he is getting messages from God to punish a variety of sinners, but he also does a great job behind the camera as the director. He does such a good job in fact, he makes Matthew McConaughey look good at a time his credibility as a serious actor was at a real low. Now that’s a testament to talent.

The Edge of Tomorrow -2014


Popping back on his military fatigues again to fight a bunch of nasty Aliens, Bill Paxton really does stand out in this surprisingly good Tom Cruise sci-fi vehicle. It was great seeing Paxton back on the big screen after plying his trad in various TV shows for a while. I am wondering though whether it is the fact that Paxton, due to the groundhog daylike time travel, repeats his hilarious Master Sergeant Farrell speech over and over that it sticks in your head.

Nightcrawler -2014

Nightcrawler paxton gyllenhaal

This was going to mark the start of a great new era in Paxton’s career. No longer a player in action films (apart from the Edge of Tomorrow) it looked like it was time to move on to artistically stunning films like Nightcrawler. Tapping into his greasy side again, Paxton plays crime Journalist Joe Loder perfectly and is a great early rival to the creepy Jake Gyllenhaal lead. It such a shame that Bill died when he did as the transition into a true veteran of the business was cut so abruptly.

So that’s my list of the most memorable performances of the late, great Bill Paxton. I really hope that you all check out some of these films if you haven’t seen them and of course comment if you agree or disagree.

Game over man, Game over!

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