'Twister' Director Fondly Recalls Working With Bill Paxton: "He Did His Own Stunts"

Twister BTS - Everett - H 2017
Courtesy of Everett Collection

Jan de Bont on how the star braved injuries on the tornado-chasing action film: "He kept saying, 'Certain things you cannot act — you have to feel them.'"

He loved the physical part of acting. He did his own stunts — he would not let anyone take that away from him. That scene in Twister where they are on the way to the big tornado — he did that all himself. In those days, we didn't have visual effects — we had to make it real. So he was on the back of a pickup truck, and in front of him were three other trucks: one loaded with huge blocks of ice, another one was a grinder to grind up the ice and a third with massive wind-blowers to spit all that ice out toward Bill's truck.

These were not fine-tuned machines. Some of those ice particles were 3 or 4 inches. He got injured. It was like rocks coming at him. If you look at the movie, you can see the cuts on his face — those are real. But when the scene was over, he was so full of adrenaline. "That was so cool! That was the greatest! It was so real!" He was so excited. Most actors I've worked with don't even want to get close to this sort of thing. But that was the core of who Bill was. He kept saying, "Certain things you cannot act — you have to feel them."

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