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After news broke Sunday of Paxton’s death due to complications from surgery, Cameron emailed a statement to Vanity Fair remembering the actor, whose creative endeavors with him evolved into a 36-year friendship: “The world is a lesser place for his passing.”
Cameron gave Paxton one of his first jobs in Hollywood in the 1970s. The director writes that he first met Paxton on the set of a Roger Corman “ultra-low budget movie” and the two “quickly recognized the creative spark in each other and became fast friends.”
“He took good care of his relationships with people, always caring and present for others. He was a good man, a great actor, and a creative dynamo,” adds Cameron.
As Paxton’s death comes just before Hollywood’s biggest night at the Oscars, Cameron hopes people will remember the actor as a “great human.”
“I hope that amid the gaudy din of Oscar night, people will take a moment to remember this wonderful man, not just for all the hours of joy he brought to us with his vivid screen presence, but for the great human that he was,” he writes.
Paxton provided some of the most memorable moments in Cameron’s films. He had a brief but well-loved one-scene in 1984’s The Terminator, which saw him play a mohawked punk hanging out after-hours atop Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory. When The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) shows up, Paxton’s character challenges him, and predictably, things do not go well. Paxton had a more meaty role 1986’s Aliens, with his Private Hudson memorably yelling, “Game over, man. Game over!”
Eight years later in True Lies, Paxton delivered the fan-favorite role of car salesman/conman Simon, who runs across a Schwarzenegger character once again, this time by lying to Helen Tasker (Jamie Lee Curtis) and telling her he was a secret agent in an attempt to seduce her. Real-life secret agent Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger) does not take kindly to that. And in 1997’s Titanic, he anchored the modern-day plotline as treasure hunter Brock Lovett.
Read Cameron’s full statement below
I’ve been reeling from this for the past half hour, trying to wrap my mind and heart around it. Bill leaves such a void. He and I were close friends for 36 years, since we met on the set of a Roger Corman ultra-low budget movie. He came in to work on set, and I slapped a paint brush in his hand and pointed to a wall, saying “Paint that!” We quickly recognized the creative spark in each other and became fast friends. What followed was 36 years of making films together, helping develop each others’ projects, going on scuba diving trips together, watching each others kids growing up, even diving the Titanic wreck together in Russian subs. It was a friendship of laughter, adventure, love of cinema, and mutual respect. Bill wrote beautiful heartfelt and thoughtful letters, an anachronism in this age of digital shorthand. He took good care of his relationships with people, always caring and present for others. He was a good man, a great actor, and a creative dynamo. I hope that amid the gaudy din of Oscar night, people will take a moment to remember this wonderful man, not just for all the hours of joy he brought to us with his vivid screen presence, but for the great human that he was. The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him.
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