'Training Day' Creator Remembers Bill Paxton: "He Swung for the Fences, Every Time"

Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment
Paxton (left) and co-star Justin Cornwell on the 'Training Day' set.

"Bill never took himself too seriously. But he was serious about the work," says Will Beall, who recalls one final speech the actor gave to the cast and crew of the CBS series on the last night of production.

Bill always sought out the shyest on set, welcomed the wallflowers. He gave the motor cops on traffic control just as much attention as he did Jerry Bruckheimer. While we were circling through Watts, shooting a scene for the pilot, some gangbangers recognized him and shouted out, "Hey, Aliens!" He waved and gave them a quick "Game over, man!" and then continued his monologue without breaking stride. He was hilarious. Most of his jokes were at his own expense. Bill never took himself too seriously. But he was serious about the work. He swung for the fences, every take, every time.

On our last night of production [in December], he gathered us together on one of our stages and made a speech to the crew. This is what he said: "We are in a sacred hall. We are in a temple. There are people that have gone before us who've come together, like we have, to make something. … You know, in modern society, we are all alone. But here we've come together as craftsmen and artists to make something, and that's a very special thing, carrying on a tradition that goes back a hundred years, which is amazing to think about. We are so privileged to be doing what we are doing."

Will Beall is the creator of CBS' Training Day, as well as a screenwriter (Gangster Squad) and author. 

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