"It's very liberating to be naked in front of a hundred people, but there's nothing sexual about lovemaking on a movie set." Bill Paxton
First noticed while playing sniping older brother Chet in Weird Science (1985), Bill Paxton later gained more attention for his roles as loud-mouthed Private Hudson in Aliens (1986), the sadistic vampire Severen in Near Dark (1987), astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (1995) and tornado researcher Bill Harding in the blockbuster Twister (1996, opposite Helen Hunt). He also starred in such films as One False Move (1992), Tombstone (1993), True Lies (1994), Frank and Jesse (1995), Traveller (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), A Simple Plan (1998), U-571 (2000) and Frailty (2001, also directed).
Brown-haired, blue-eyed Bill Paxton stands at 5'11" tall and received the nicknames Wild Bill and Peter LeTrek. The director of the Saturday Night Live short film favorite, Fish Heads (1982, Paxton also produced, wrote and acted), Paxton recently acted in 2004’s Club Dread, Thunderbirds and Haven. The former member of the 80s rock band “Martini Ranch” is currently filming the TV series “Big Love” and just completed directing his upcoming film project titled The Greatest Game Ever Played.
Childhood and Family:
Second child of parents John Lane Paxton (lumber wholesaler) and Mary Lou Paxton, William Paxton was born on May 17, 1955, in Fort Worth, Texas. He grew up in an upper middleclass family along with his three siblings and was an altar boy. After studying at Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Texas, Bill Paxton became a foreign-exchange student at the Richmond College in London, England. He also went to New York University in New York, where he studied acting privately with Stella Adler. As a teenager, he once became a caddy for golf great Ben Hogan in Fort Worth.
Bill Paxton met Louise Paxton (British) on a number 13 bus in London and they later exchanged wedding vows in 1987. The couple now happily lives in Los Angeles with their two children: James Paxton (born on February 23, 1994) and daughter Lydia Paxton (born on December 19, 1997).
"In this business, it's winner-take-all. There is no second place. But it's also a waiting game, and you figure your number has got to come up at some point." Bill Paxton
Initially making his own films with a Super-8 camera, 18-year-old Bill Paxton packed for Los Angeles to pursue a film career. He found a job as a set decorator for Roger Corman's production company New World Pictures, starting with the film project Big Bad Mama. After getting his feature debut as an extra in Jonathan Demme's Crazy Mama (1975), Paxton went to New York City to study drama with Stella Adler. He then returned to Los Angeles and appeared on the short-fated war comedy series "The Six O'Clock Follies" (1980).
Ivan Reitman's Stripes (1981) was Paxton’s first released film. He followed it up with directing several short independent films, including the NBC's Saturday Night Live favorite, Fish Heads (1982, he also wrote, produced and acted). The 5-minute comedy won a Special Award at the 1982 Melbourne Film Festival.
The next year, Paxton was seen in Taking Tiger Mountain, Night Warning, and Deadly Lessons (TV), and costarred as a mortician's son in Howard Avedis' horror Mortuary (with Christopher George and Lynda Day George). He also appeared in the unsold CBS pilot, Great Day, and co-authored and produced the short Scoop (1983), which won an Honorable Mention at the 1983 USA Film Festival.
Paxton played bit parts in such films as The Lords of Discipline, Pat Benatar: Hit Videos (V), Streets of Fire, Impulse, The Terminator and the miniseries "The Atlanta Child Murders" before he won his first notable role in John Hughes' fantasy comedy Weird Science (1985, with Anthony Michael Hall and Kelly LeBrock). He then appeared in Commando, An Early Frost (TV), Riding Fast, Pat Benatar: The Visual Music Collection (V), the miniseries "Fresno" and played blustering Private Hudson in James Cameron's sci-fi movie Aliens (1986, starring Sigourney Weaver).
Another memorable role arrived when director Kathryn Bigelow cast Paxton to play crazed vampire Severen in the stylish and brutal mixture of horror, western, and action film Near Dark (1987), alongside Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright and Jenette Goldstein. The rest of the 1980s saw Paxton play roles in Pass the Ammo, Slipstream and Next of Kin. He also appeared in 1990’s Back to Back, Brain Dead, The Last of the Finest, Navy Seals and Predator 2.
After costarring with Judd Nelson in writer-director Adam Rifkin's comedy The Dark Backward (1991), Paxton nabbed his first starring role as energetic police chief Dale 'Hurricane' Dixon in Carl Franklin’s sleeper crime thriller One False Move (1992, alongside co-writer and actor Billy Bob Thornton). More roles subsequently followed in films like The Vagrant, Trespass, Future Shock, Indian Summer, Boxing Helena, and Monolith. He also costarred as the naive younger brother of the famous Wyatt Earp (played by Kurt Russell) in George P. Cosmatos' Western movie Tombstone (1993, also with Val Kilmer and Sam Elliott) and teamed with Rob Lowe as two anti-union guerillas in Robert Boris' biopic Frank and Jesse (1994).
Paxton reunited with director James Cameron in an adaptation of a 1991 French spy comedy, True Lies (1994), and played sickly astronaut Freddie Hayes in Ron Howard's screen version of Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger's book, Apollo 13 (1995, with Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon). He also netted another starring role as Helen Hunt's soon-to-be-ex-husband, meteorologist Bill Harding, in Jan de Bont's box-office hit Twister (1996, produced by Steven Spielberg).
More significant roles followed. Paxton starred as con-artist Bokky in Jack N. Green's Traveller (1997, opposite Mark Wahlberg, also Paxton’s producing debut), as Brock Lovett in writer-director James Cameron's Oscar-winning epic Titanic (1997) and as Army man John Paul Vann in a TV-movie version of Neil Sheehan's book, the true-story based A Bright Shining Lie (1998, HBO). He also starred as Billy Bob Thornton's brother and Bridget Fonda's husband in Sam Raimi's tight and effective thriller, the Oscar nominated A Simple Plan (1998, also with Brent Briscoe). That same year, Paxton starred in Ron Underwood's ill-fated remake of Mighty Joe Young (1998, alongside Charlize Theron) and hosted "Saturday Night Live" in January of 1999.
The new millennium saw Paxton costar with Matthew McConaughey in Jonathan Mostow’s WWII thriller U-571, with Chris O'Donnell in Martin Campbell's high-adrenaline film Vertical Limit and make his feature directorial debut with the thriller Frailty, in which he also costarred with Matthew McConaughey. Paxton then appeared as Dinky Winks in writer-director Robert Rodriguez's family movie Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) and reprised his role in its 2003 sequel, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. He also starred as himself in Oscar-winning director James Cameron's journeys back to the legendary wreck of the Titanic, in the documentary Ghosts of the Abyss (2003) and appeared in Limp Bizkit's video "Eat You Alive."
Paxton starred as an American fighter pilot in Todd Komarnicki's WWII film based on Anita Shreve's novel, Resistance (2003). He then played roles in such 2004 films as Jay Chandrasekhar's thriller comedy Broken Lizard's Club Dread, Jonathan Frakes' screen version of the TV series Thunderbirds (as a brilliant entrepreneur and former astronaut) and Frank E. Flowers' crime drama Haven (with Orlando Bloom and Stephen Dillane). Currently, Paxton is busy filming the upcoming TV series "Big Love," playing the lead role of a polygamist.
Adding to his film career, Paxton has tried his hand in music and was part of the band "Martini Ranch" in the mid-80s. Along with Andrew Todd, Paxton released the album "Holy Cow," which spawned such hits as "Reach" (directed by James Cameron) or "How Can The Labouring Man Find Time For Self-Culture?"
"... But it was movies I had always wanted to be in. I'm into the whole thing, not just performing. I love watching what goes on behind the camera. My heroes are Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd -- complete filmmakers." Bill Paxton
- Deep Ellum Film Festival: Texas Filmmaker Award, 2001
- The Actor: Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Motion Picture, Apollo 13; initial presentation of award; shared award with film's cast; presented by the Screen Actors Guild, 1995
- Saturn Award: Best Supporting Actor, Aliens, 1987
- Cine Eagle Award: Scoop; Paxton produced, wrote and starred in this short film, 1983