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The actor leaves behind a long career of movie and TV roles. Some of his most memorable parts were as the sarcastic Private Hudson in Aliens (1986), as astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (1995), as storm chaser Bill Harding in Twister (1996), as underwater explorer Brock Lovett in Titanic and, on the small screen, as polygamist Bill Henrickson on HBO’s Big Love.
Take a closer look at five of Paxton’s most memorable roles below.
In Aliens, just one of his many collaborations with James Cameron, Paxton played the sarcastic Private Hudson. The film, a sequel to the 1979 sci-fi thriller, takes place 57 years after the previous story, with Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley as the only survivor of that mission. She joins up with a group of marines on a journey back to the mystery planet, where a human colony has been established. Paxton’s character lightens the mood with a number of quips.
The two reunited along with Cameron and the rest of the Aliens team last year for a 30th anniversary Comic-Con panel, which can be viewed in full below.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Paxton played astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13, Ron Howard’s film about the tense 1970 NASA endeavor that almost ended in tragedy. The mission was aborted after an onboard explosion caused the capsule to leak oxygen. Crewmembers and the support team on the ground scramble to figure out how to protect the astronauts on board and safely return the craft to Earth. The strong ensemble cast includes Tom Hanks as hero Jim Lovell, Kevin Bacon as fellow astronaut Jack Swigert, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris. The film earned nine Oscar nominations and two wins.
Paxton played storm chaser Bill Harding alongside Helen Hunt in the 1996 thriller directed by Jan de Bont. Hunt and Paxton portray a once-married team who reunite to track tornadoes as Paxton’s character is getting ready to marry someone else. They pursue multiple storms, including a double twister and level-five tornado, which suck up trees, trucks, houses and even cows — or maybe just one cow.
Paxton appeared in the modern-day framing story in Titanic. His underwater explorer Brock Lovett finds a charcoal portrait of Kate Winslet’s Rose, whose older counterpart (played by Gloria Stuart) contacts him to talk about her journey on the doomed voyage. Paxton’s character uttered the “Are you ready to go back to Titanic?” line, included here in the film’s original trailer.
Big Love (2006-2011)
Paxton received three Golden Globe nominations for his role as polygamist Bill Henrickson, married to three women played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin. Amanda Seyfriend played his daughter Sarah Henrickson. While Paxton initially wasn’t happy about his character’s storyline in the HBO series’ finale, he ultimately came around to it.
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