Bill Paxton, a genial and prolific character actor whose memorable movie roles included an astronaut in “Apollo 13” and a treasure hunter in “Titanic,” and who starred as a polygamist in the HBO series “Big Love,” has died. He was 61.
A family representative issued a statement Sunday confirming the death, of complications from surgery, but provided no further details. He reportedly died on Feb. 25.
Mr. Paxton appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, with credits including signature works of the past 40 years, from “Titanic” and “Apollo 13” to “The Terminator and “Aliens.”
He brought a reliably human dimension to big-budget action adventures and science fiction. He was, sci-fi fans like to point out, the only actor killed by a Predator, a Terminator and an Alien.
But Mr. Paxton defined his career less by his marquee status than as a character actor, often playing likable regular Joes whose lives and moral compasses spiral out of control, as in the first-rate neo-noirs “One False Move” (1992) and “A Simple Plan” (1998).
One of the industry’s busiest actors, Mr. Paxton once said the hardest part of his career wasn’t the work itself, but the time in between.
“You know all the time I’ve been in this business which is a long, long time now, I go from having incredible days like shooting the part of Sam Houston and then all of a sudden I’m home and I’m out of work and it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon, I’m in my boxer shorts watching Turner Classic Movies,” he told the Associated Press in 2015.
William Paxton, whose father John was a lumber company and museum executive, was born in Fort Worth on May 17, 1955. As a young man, he made amateur films with friends and worked in the art department for “B’’ movie king Roger Corman. He made his screen debut in Corman’s “Crazy Mama” (1975) and struggled for years to break into mainstream films.
He excelled as a sadistic military school cadet in “The Lords of Discipline” (1983), based on the Pat Conroy novel, and continued apace in supporting parts in films such as “Weird Science” (1985), “Aliens” (1986), “Tombstone” (1993) and “True Lies” (1994).
A breakthrough was playing Fred Haise in “Apollo 13” (1995), directed by Ron Howard and also featuring Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon as fellow astronauts. Mr. Paxton followed with leading parts in “Twister” (1996) opposite Helen Hunt, “The Evening Star” (1997), a sequel to “Terms of Endearment” and “Titanic” (1997).
He starred in “Big Love,” as a businessman balancing three wives and many other concerns, from 2006 to 2011.
His first marriage, to Kelly Rowan ended in divorce. In 1987, he married Louise Newbury, who survives, along with their two children. A complete list of survivors could not be confirmed.
Read more Washington Post obituaries