James Cameron Pens Moving New Tribute to Bill Paxton: "We Shared Many Adventures"

Cameron (left) and Paxton on a research ship while shooting 2003’s 'Ghosts of the Abyss.'

The director, who cast Paxton in 'Aliens,' 'True Lies' and 'Titanic,' recalls an "absolute original" whose "zany characters onscreen belied a serious, thoughtful and caring man."

As I sit writing this, I'm looking at a 700-pound stone head of Bacchus, the party god, that Bill Paxton had delivered to my house one day. He got it from a hotel that was being demolished in New York and just figured his pal Cameron needed a 700-pound stone head. It has been in my living room for 15 years. That's the kind of guy Bill was. An absolute original. He approached life at full throttle and with a childlike enthusiasm — for people, for stories, for history, for art. We shared many adventures together — on boats, scuba diving with sharks and even diving together in a Russian research submersible 2½ miles down to the Titanic wreck and exploring it together.

I cherish the work we did together, as Bill brought to life so many indelible characters in my films. He was a joy to work with and brought a smorgasbord of ideas to the set every day. We remember him for his strong screen presence, but it is also important to remember he was a highly accomplished feature film director as well. He understood every aspect of the creative process intimately and had a special respect for artists and the design process.

He was an avid collector of art and very knowledgeable on the subject and very well-read, with a deep intellectual curiosity. His zany characters onscreen belied a serious, thoughtful and caring man. I'm still processing that he's gone. It's hard to fathom that such a force of nature could be snatched from the world in his prime. He leaves a void in my life that can never be filled. I mourn the work we will never do together and the laughs we will never share. But I'm grateful for, and celebrate, the time and the work and the adventures we did have.

This story first appeared in the March 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.