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Sadly, it was reported earlier this morning that Bill Paxton, at the age of 61, has passed away from complications during surgery. The actor will be supremely missed by his loved ones and the fans who remember from films like Twister, Aliens, and Apollo 13. Paxton was a close friend to James Cameron, a prolific director who often included Paxton in his films. Cameron issued a statement remembering their 36 years of friendship, and how the world is now a lesser place with his absence.
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 other's projects, going on scuba diving trips together, watching each other's 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.
James Cameron released this statement to Vanity Fair, pointing out the deep history and creative spark he shared with Bill Paxton. The two of them first met building sets for a Roger Corman movie, quickly realizing they had much in common and becoming fast friends. The Roger Corman film would lead Cameron into eventually having his directorial debut with Piranha Part Two: The Spawning.
Bill Paxton and James Cameron first began working together on Cameron's passion project, the seminal sci-fi classic Terminator. Cameron cast Paxton in a small role as a street punk who crosses paths with Arnold Schwarzenegger's titular robot soon after he first arrives in the past; it's a meeting that does not go well for the punk. After that, the two friends would work together several more times, with Paxton appearing in a variety of roles in some of the director's most popular work such as Brock Lovett in Titanic; Private Hudson in Aliens; Simon the con man in True Lies; and as himself in the undersea documentary, Ghosts of the Abyss.
These are some very kind words from a longtime friend, and it's clear that Bill Paxton will be extremely missed.