I'm honestly still not over losing Bill Paxton in 2017. The actor was a Texas icon who proudly brought his signature southern accent to all of his memorable roles. He was completely hilarious, somehow bringing comedic moments to unexpected films like Aliens and Twister while having the ability to effortlessly appear in dramas like Apollo 13, Titanic, and the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. Like Tom Hanks, Paxton was well known for being one of the nicest guys in Hollywood and we have no doubt that was 100% accurate.
Paxton grew up in Fort Worth and initially didn't know he wanted to be an actor. He studied at Richmond College in England where he had dreams of becoming a director, making his own short films with school mates. He moved to Los Angeles and tried to work in the set and art departments but after being rejected by the local film schools, decided he would try out acting. Thank goodness! Can you imagine True Lies without his hilarious supporting role?
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Paxton has worked multiple times with director James Cameron who first gave the up-and-coming actor a small role in The Terminator. The actor has since appeared in a wide array of films -- Weird Science, Tombstone, A Simple Plan, Edge of Tomorrow, Mighty Joe Young, The Circle, Frailty, Nightcrawler, Near Dark, One False Move, Navy Seals, Predator 2, Spy Kids 2, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Vertical Limit, Thunderbirds, Ghosts of the Abyss, Streets of Fire, Commando, and more.
He's also well-known for starring on multiple television series. Paxton starred as a polygamist on HBO's popular series Big Love, as Sam Houston in the History Channel's Texas Rising miniseries, and as Detective Frank Roarke in the CBS series Training Day. He's been nominated at the Emmys and Golden Globes and it's honestly a tragedy he was never recognized at the Oscars. But outside of all of his acting accolades, Paxton was also a musician.
In the 80s, Paxton and Andrew Todd Rosenthal formed the New Wave duo Martini Ranch. Their debut album Holy Cow was released with Sire Records in 1988. Their sound was compared to Devo, who collaborated with the duo on their song "How Can the Labouring Man Find Time for Self-Culture?" Cindy Wilson of the B-52's and actors Judge Reinhold and Bud Cort were also featured on the album. Was this the best-kept secret of the 80s or what?
You probably didn't realize it, but Martini Ranch songs have popped up in a couple of films. The opening song from You Can't Hurry Love and the final credits song from Paxton's Brain Dead both feature Martini Ranch originals. James Cameron even directed the western-themed music video for "Reach" which included cameos of Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, Jenette Goldstein, Judge Reinhold, Brian Thompson, Kathryn Bigelow, and Adrian Pasdar. Fun fact, the female bodybuilders featured in the video were Paxton's acquaintances from the gym! How has this music video not become more iconic? I have so many questions...the music video is definitely long but it's worth the full watch.
Clearly, music was a short-term passion project for the actor but it's now one of our favorite pieces of Bill Paxton trivia.