UPDATE, 12 PM: Bill Paxton’s death certificate says the actor died February 25 from a stroke, 11 days after surgery to replace a heart valve and repair damage to his aorta, The Associated Press reports. The document was first reported by TMZ. Paxton’s death was announced just hours before the February 26 Oscars.
Paxton is survived by Louise Newbury, his wife of 30 years, and children James and Lydia Paxton. The 22-year-old James recently filmed a guest-starring role on Paxton’s Training Day series.
“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” his family said in a statement. “A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”
Paxton, who has a costarring role in the upcoming Tom Hanks sci-fi drama The Circle (due in theaters April 28), was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his front-of-camera “debut” at age 8 on the morning of November 22, 1963, when he was photographed in a Texas crowd greeting President John F. Kennedy on the morning of the Kennedy assassination. The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas displays the picture.
After small roles in the 1970s, Paxton’s visibility blossomed during the 1980s with notable small or supporting film and TV roles in Stripes, The Lords of Discipline, The Terminator, The Atlanta Child Murders, Weird Silence, An Early Frost and Aliens.
In 1987, Paxton commanded attention as a sadistic but charming vampire in Kathryn Bigelow’s moody Near Dark, and the actor then gave one memorable performance after another, often in projects recalled now for few reasons other than his presence. He was in One False Move and Boxing Helena, Indian Summer and Tombstone.
The bigger movies and roles soon arrived: 1994’s True Lies, ’95’s Apollo 13 and the starring role in 1996 blockbuster Twister. He played a treasure hunter in ’97’s Titanic and a professor in Mighty Joe Young (’98).
But it was television that would bring some of his best, highest-profile roles, notably the lead of HBO’s Big Love (2006-11). As the much-married polygamist Bill Henrickson, Paxton brought both charm and sex appeal to a role that could have been extremely unsympathetic, and indeed was crucial to giving the series a credible, likable center, if not quite a hero then at least a flawed, kind man who viewers (and Henrickson’s devoted “sister-wives”) could embrace.
In a statement released today by HBO, Big Love‘s success was attributed to Paxton’s “extraordinary talent and grace.” See the statement in full below.
More recently, Paxton appeared in the very popular Hatfields & McCoys and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as Training Day and Texas Rising.
Paxton is set to appear in the upcoming The Circle along with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. James Ponsoldt’s sci-fi drama, based on Dave Eggers 2013 novel, hits theaters April 28, 2017.
Here is HBO’s statement on Paxton’s passing:
“We are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Paxton. Big Love was a seminal series for HBO for many years due to Bill’s extraordinary talent and grace. Off screen, he was as warm, smart and fun as one could be. A true friend to so many at HBO. He will be greatly missed.”