Bill Paxton’s Top 10 Best Roles Of All Time

Bill Paxton, star of Twister, Aliens, and Big Love, died February 25 at the age of 61 after complications from surgery. Paxton left behind an expansive career filled with diverse characters, memorable scenes, and classic moments in film history. As Gizmodo reported, Paxton is one of only two actors to be killed on-screen by an Alien, Terminator, and a Predator.

In memory of Bill Paxton’s work, here’s a look at the actor’s greatest hits over his more than 35-year career.

  1. Aliens

Aliens wasn’t Paxton’s first movie, but it was one of the most ground-breaking sci-fi movies of the 80s and Paxton was right in the center of the action as Private Hudson. Hudson, usually panicked, but often the comic relief in the heart-stopping thriller, became memorable for his famous “Game over, man! Game over!” line. Fans have mourned Paxton’s recent death by using this line in their eulogies.

2. The Terminator

Although Paxton played a small role in The Terminator, the first movie in the Terminator franchise that spanned decades, the young Paxton still made the bit part memorable. In The Terminator, Paxton’s character doesn’t even get a name, he’s simply “Punk Leader” emulating the punk style of the early 1980s with blue, spiky hair, a switchblade, and a bad attitude.

3. Brain Dead

Brain Dead may be an overlooked cult classic in Paxton’s repertoire, but it’s still one of his weirdest movies. Paxton played Jim Reston, a slick, but slimy employee of a company who was conducting human experiments on the brain. The trippy film positions itself as a surrealist gore horror against the saturation of zombie and gross-out horror films of the era. Although not the greatest film, Brain Dead added another level in Paxton’s selection of diverse, and sometimes weird, roles.

4. Predator 2

Predator 2 allowed Paxton to be the comic relief in a movie that was too serious for its ridiculous premise. Unlike the first Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Predator 2 featured Danny Glover and Gary Busey tracking the Predator in metropolitan Los Angeles. It was a silly premise, but Paxton presents himself as one of the highlights of the movie as officer Jerry Lambert. Plus, Paxton’s death in Predator 2 completed his pantheon of onscreen deaths by an Alien, Terminator, and Predator.

5. Tombstone

Paxton played Morgan Earp in the western-inspired, heavy-hitter Tombstone. The western for the new era featured Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, and Paxton as the light-hearted relief in a gritty film. Even as Wyatt Earp’s brother, Morgan, Paxton kept his signature, likable charm. While he’s dying, Paxton’s character Morgan says, “Remember what I said about people seein’ a bright light before they die? It ain’t true. I can’t see a damn thing.”

6. True Lies

This 1994 action comedy is Paxton’s second time acting along Schwarzenegger, except for this time Paxton doesn’t get terminated. He plays Simon, a smooth-talking low life car salesman trying to steal Jamie Lee Curtis, Schwarzenegger’s wife, by offering a little adventure to the bored house wife.

7. Twister

Twister is one of Paxton’s most memorable leading man roles. The 1996 thriller pits a storm-chasing couple against the tornado of the century and a race against time and discovery.

8. Titanic

Titanic is usually remembered as a cheesy romance movie that features a number of sexy scenes coupled with brutal depictions of death at sea. Although the romance is the meat of the story, Paxton plays Brock Lovett, a Titanic explorer that works with Rose Calvert, a centenarian that survived the Titanic, to look for the “heart of the sea,” a necklace that holds a precious gem.

9. Hatfields & McCoys

Although not actually a movie, Hatfields & McCoys was a TV mini-series featuring Paxton as the McCoy patriarch, Randall McCoy. The story outlines the tragic feud between the two rural families and how their hatred extended for generations. Although Paxton was great at comic relief, his role as Randall McCoy allowed him to show a serious side to his acting chops.

10. Nightcrawler

Bill Paxton and his “Nightcrawler” co-stars at the New York premiere. [Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]

Paxton is Joe Loder, a fellow freelance photographer, in the Oscar-nominated film Nightcrawler. Paxton is the first person to tell Jake Gyllenhaal’s character how to sell photos to local news organizations, coining the phrase, “If it bleeds it leads.” But eventually, Gyllenhaal turns on Paxton’s character in a devious sequence of events.

Bill Paxton speaking about “Training Day” during the CBS portion of the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour. [Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]

Before his untimely death, Paxton played Detective Frank Rourke in the television series Training Day. Although Bill Paxton will be missed, his legacy will live on in the hundreds of credits he has to his name, and in the iconic moments he portrayed onscreen.

[Featured Image by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images]

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