Today would have marked the 65th birthday for the late, great, Bill Paxton. The actor sadly passed away in 2017 following complications from open heart surgery, but despite leaving us far too soon, his career spanned nearly 40 years with performances in some of the biggest movies in history. He also has the rare distinction of being the only person to be killed by a Terminator, Xenomorph and Predator.
His role as “Punk Leader” in The Terminator was a turning point in his career. Yes, he dies within the first 10 minutes of the movie at the hands of a very naked Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that part proved to be a seminal moment for him because it was the first of many times working with director James Cameron.
Cameron definitely saw something in Paxton because the director cast him as Private William Hudson in Aliens two years later. It’s perhaps his most famous role due in large part to a particular line of dialogue he quotes in the movie: “Game over, man!” His performance begins as nothing more than comic bafoonery, but he eventually finds redemption by sacrificing himself and going out in a blaze of glory.
His role in Predator 2 as Detective Lambert, meanwhile, might be the least memorable. The sequel to the action classic is largely forgotten (although underrated) and by the time 1990 rolled around, Paxton was clearly looking to move on from the dumb hick persona he was typecast in. His death in Predator 2 is similar to Aliens in that he clearly stands no chance against the monster but fights anyway. And before dying a horrible death, he does get one last line, shouting: “Let’s dance!”
The ‘90s proved to be even more successful for the actor. He had memorable turns in movies like Trespass, Tombstone, True Lies (reuniting with Cameron again) and Apollo 13. He was also given the starring role in the ‘96 blockbuster Twister. But even after finally becoming a leading man, he followed that up with a number of performances playing bad guys in films such as A Simple Plan, Vertical Limit and Frailty, which was his directorial debut.
Paxton continued to work steadily throughout this century and 2014 proved to be his last great year. His roles as Master Sergeant Farell in Edge of Tomorrow and as Joe Loder in Nightcrawler were full-circle performances highlighting his greatest parts in film as loud-mouth lawmen and sleazy characters.
Bill Paxton may be the only actor to die at the hands of a Terminator, Xenomorph and Predator, but his career was so much more than that.