The celebrity news headlines are focused on the Oscars today – but it’s another story that’s breaking hearts in La La Land. Hollywood is stunned at the death of veteran actor Bill Paxton at age 61.
“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” read a statement released by the family.
“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.”
Social media was flooded with condolences from actors and former co-stars as news of his passing broke on Sunday, February 26, which also happens to be the biggest day of the year for the movie industry.
In his memory, on this Oscar Sunday, watch “One False Move” or “A Simple Plan” to see this lovely leading man, at his finest.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) February 26, 2017
You were a great friend to me, Bill. AND one of the finest actors to share a set with. Sending so much love to Bill Paxton’s family.
— Charlize Theron (@CharlizeAfrica) February 26, 2017
Bill Paxton was hands down one of the greatest guys that I have ever met. I feel lucky to have called him my friend. Bill, I love you. RIP.
— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) February 26, 2017
Really bummed to hear about Bill Paxton this morning. Great guy, energy and always smilin’. Strength to the Paxton family. #restinlove
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) February 26, 2017
Crushing. #RIPBillPaxton A gr8 talent & spirit. His passion contributed so much 2 #Apollo13 & all his wrk. We’ll miss the hell out of U Bill https://t.co/j2Khv6fmCP
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) February 26, 2017
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Paxton moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to pursue a career in the movie industry.
“I came out to Hollywood when I was just 18, and my dad, he was really into Hollywood and theater and art, and I guess growing up, he exposed me to a lot of cultures, and I just started making Super-8 films in high school and decided I wanted to be a filmmaker,” Paxton told The A.V. Club in 2012. “My heroes at the time were probably guys like Clint Eastwood, who was an actor, but also a filmmaker.”
In the 1980’s he landed small roles in two James Cameron films (The Terminator and Aliens) and he played the unlikable jerk Chet in the John Hughes-directed sci-fi comedy Weird Science.
His star continued to rise in the 1990’s thanks to the western, Tombstone and the box office hit Twister, where he starred alongside Cary Elwes and Helen Hunt, both of whom honored him on Twitter.
He made this movie great–he acted his heart out. What a talented man. My thoughts are with his family. pic.twitter.com/rUcmmYME3h
— Helen Hunt (@HelenHunt) February 26, 2017
Very sad to hear about Bill Paxton. His talent, enthusiasm and energy were unique. Our thoughts are with his family pic.twitter.com/W4IVuILHxv
— Cary Elwes (@Cary_Elwes) February 26, 2017
Thanks to his work in Best Picture nominee Apollo 13, he forged a friendship with co-star Tom Hanks that continued until his death.
Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man. A wonderful man… Hanx.
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) February 26, 2017
He also reunited with Cameron, this time in a larger capacity, in 1994’s True Lies. Paxton’s co-stars in the action thriller, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jamie Lee Curtis, paid their respects on Sunday.
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.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) February 26, 2017
Nooooo. Bill Paxton is gone. Such a funny, talented, loving human. Louise & the children & family my ❤& support 2 u. #truelies pic.twitter.com/d4zleWdOrR
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) February 26, 2017
The biggest film of his career also happens to be one of the biggest in the history of cinema. In 1997’s Titanic, Cameron cast him as Brock Lovett, a man obsessed with the sunken ship and the valuable diamond buried within it. Titanic won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and stood as the top-grossing domestic movie at the box office for more than a decade.
“The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him,” read part of a statement which Cameron wrote to Vanity Fair.
Paxton also found success on the small screen thanks to his Golden Globe-nominated performance in HBO’s Big Love and his Emmy-nominated role as Randolph McCoy in the History Channel miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys.
At the time of his death, Paxton was starring in the CBS drama Training Day. In a recent interview with People, he spoke about his excitement of acting with his son James, who will guest-star later this season.
“I was thrilled to have my son [James, 22,] guest-star on the eighth episode of Training Day,” he told the celebrity news outlet in February 2017. “He plays the son in a father-son robbery team, and my character, whose dad was also a criminal, tells him, ‘We’re both our father’s sons, but that doesn’t have to define us.’ It was surreal saying that to him.”
In his personal life, Paxton was a devoted husband to his wife of 30 years, Louise Newbury, and a loving father to James and daughter Lydia.
He’ll appear once more on the big screen, opposite his longtime friend Tom Hanks, in The Circle, which hits theaters on April 28.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.