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Why Bill Paxton Was Different Than Most Actors

It’s a shame it can take an actor’s death to learn how selfless he was behind the scenes.

Take Bill Paxton. News of the 61-year-old star of “Titanic,” “Aliens” and “Big Love” dying sent a stream of memorials across social media.

Fans mourned. Stars who worked with Paxton did something more. They described a humble man who proved a joy to work alongside. The actor’s death sparked a wave of tributes, both from the directors who collaborated with him to fellow stars recalling a humble colleague.

Paxton’s generosity extended to those whose names don’t appear on movie posters.

Ernie Mannix is a music composer for film and television and the author of the Hollywood novel, “Six Devils In The San Fernando Valley.

Mannix shared his personal connection to Paxton on Facebook, and he agreed to expound upon it here:

I had the good fortune to work with Bill Paxton on a show for HBO called “Big Love.” Bill played a polygamist married to three women. Anyone can imagine that being married to three people would be quite chaotic, and the plot lines of “Big Love” reflected such a chaotic and stormy existence.

At the center of the storm was the triple-patriarch played by Paxton. Even under this insane adversity, his character was at most times calm, reassuring, centered and engaging.

I was the music editor on the show. Being that the post-production meetings took place at the studio they shot the show in, I would occasionally cross paths with Bill and the rest of the cast. Some of the other actors were very important, and oh-so not going to talk to me.

Bill was different.

Like his character on “Big Love,” Bill was pleasant, engaging, personal and warm. He spoke passionately about the show and the feature film he directed called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” Unlike so many other actors I’ve known, Bill didn’t make it all about him. He asked about me and was very complimentary about what I was contributing to the show.

I can’t say I knew him very well, but what I can say is in all my years of engaging with people at the top of the credit roll, Bill stands out as one of the nicer people I’ve known in Hollywood. We lost him way too soon.

Godspeed to the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Bill Paxton.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via / CC BY-SA

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