The last movie Bill Paxton ever made, The Circle, reunited him with his Apollo 13 co-star Tom Hanks. Now, a special feature on that Blu-Ray disc includes Hanks looking back at the time they spent together on a very small set. Hanks remembers that Bill Paxton was always the most enthusiastic member of the cast of Apollo 13. Apparently, this was due to being excited to be working on a movie as high profile as Apollo 13. According to Hanks...
Bill had this Joker-ish smile on his face and by that I mean it took over his whole face, he was just grinning. He'd been ninth banana in so many movies already so that he was in a real studio film, this was a big deal for him.
Tom Hanks says that before Apollo 13 started filming he only knew Bill Paxton as the "game over" guy from Aliens, something that became a running joke between the two. While the two had never met previously, they were forced into becoming close by the circumstances of filming. As Hanks explains in A True Original: Remembering Bill Paxton, a special feature on the Blu-Ray of The Circle, the two of them, along with Kevin Bacon, spent about four weeks together filming scenes on the set of the space capsule, keeping them in close quarters. Hanks remembers periods of downtime where the three of them were sitting on set waiting for the crew to get things ready, communicating through internal radios because they couldn't speak to each other with their helmets on. Since the only other person on the channel was director Ron Howard, the group ended up having long conversations just with each other.
It sounds like being on that radio channel would have been an amazing experience. The three actors were stuck together in a space that had to look like it was the size of an Apollo space capsule. You just don't spend that much time with someone that close together without really getting to know them. According to Tom Hanks, these conversations covered every conceivable topic over the weeks they spent together, but Bill Paxton never lost his excitement for being part of the group.
Kevin is all sardonic, he's the guy who would give you the 16-word phrase at the end of the story that would summarize what someone was just talking about. I was the guy asking questions and Bill was Mr. Enthusiasm. It was hilarious.
In addition to acting in the two films together, Tom Hanks was also an executive producer of Bill Paxton's HBO series Big Love. Bill Paxton died of a stroke in February that was brought on by complications from surgery. The Circle is out on Blu-Ray today.