Obituaries

Bill Paxton, 61, noted for roles in ‘Apollo 13’ and ’Big Love’

Bill Paxton was photographed in Cannes, France, in 2015.
OLIVIER ANRIGO/European Pressphoto Agency/File
Bill Paxton was photographed in Cannes, France, in 2015.

LOS ANGELES — Bill Paxton, a prolific and charismatic actor who had memorable roles in such blockbusters as ‘‘Apollo 13’’ and ‘‘Titanic’’ while also cherishing his work in ‘‘One False Move’’ and other low-budget movies and in the HBO series ‘‘Big Love,’’ has died from complications due to surgery. He was 61.

A family representative issued a statement Sunday on the death but provided no further details. Rolling Stone reported he died on Saturday.

Mr. Paxton, a Fort Worth native, appeared in dozens of movies and television shows and seemed to be around when history was made both on and off screen. As a boy, he was in the crowd that welcomed President John F. Kennedy in Texas on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, hours before Kennedy was killed in Dallas. As a young man, he worked in the art department for ‘‘B'’ movie king Roger Corman, who helped launch the careers of numerous actors and filmmakers.

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Mr. Paxton’s movie credits included some of the signature works of the past 40 years, from ‘‘Titanic’’ and ‘‘Apollo 13’’ to ‘‘The Terminator and ‘‘Aliens.’’ Television fans knew him for his role as a polygamist, with three wives who expected the best from him, in the HBO series ‘‘Big Love,’’ for which he received three Golden Globe nominations.

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‘‘Bill Paxton was a big-hearted, thoughtful and honorable person,’’ his ‘‘Big Love’’ costar Chloe Sevigny said in a statement. ‘‘He always had a smile on his face and could entertain any room with his wonderful stories of his many amazing years in Hollywood.’’

“Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man. A wonderful man,” Tom Hanks, a costar in “Apollo 13,” wrote on Twitter.

The film’s director, Ron Howard, called the news “crushing.”

Mr. Paxton was starring in the CBS drama ‘‘Training Day,’’ which premiered Feb. 2. The network has not announced whether it will continue to air the completed episodes.

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Mr. Paxton leaves his wife of 30 years, Louise Newbury, and their two children. His first marriage, to Kelly Rowan, ended in divorce.

His death added a sad note to Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremonies. Mr. Paxton was never nominated but appeared in several Oscar-winning movies and was beloved and respected throughout Hollywood and beyond.

‘‘On this Oscar Sunday, watch ‘One False Move’ or ‘A Simple Plan’ to see this lovely leading man, at his finest,’’ Mr. Paxton’s friend Rob Lowe tweeted.

Mr. Paxton brought a reliably human dimension to big-budget action adventures and science fiction. He was, sci-fi fans like to point out, the only actor killed by a Predator, a Terminator, and an Alien. But Mr. Paxton, famously genial and approachable, defined his career less by his marquee status than as a character actor whose regular Joes appeared across the likes of ‘‘One False Move,’’ ‘'A Simple Plan’’ and ‘‘Nightcrawler.’’

‘‘I’m a frustrated romantic actor,’’ he said in 2006. ‘‘I wanted to play the Bud part in ‘Splendor in the Grass,’ I wanted to play Romeo — the great, unrequited, tragic love stories. I've gotten to mix it up a bit with the ladies but the romance has been a subplot, running from the tornado or whatever.’’

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‘‘I feel like I’m a regionalist and a populist who’s never fit in among the intellectuals,’’ he added. ‘‘I think there’s where the heart of American art is. My greatest roles have been in regional films, whether it was ‘One False Move’ or ‘Frailty’ or ‘Simple Plan’ or ‘Traveller.'’’

Over the last decade, Mr. Paxton appeared regularly on TV.

From 2006 to 2011, he played Bill Henrickson, the patriarch of a polygamist family in Utah, on the HBO series “Big Love.”

In 2012, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for playing Randolph McCoy in the three-part miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” on the History Channel. And in 2014, he appeared in six episodes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” on ABC.

Mr. Paxton returned to TV this year as the star of the police drama “Training Day.”

A spinoff of the 2001 movie starring Denzel Washington, the series premiered earlier this month and only four episodes have been broadcast. Thirteen episodes of “Training Day” have been filmed, and Paxton appears in all of them.

Mr. Paxton often spoke warmly of his upbringing, and how his father exposed him early to movies and the stage. His father, John Paxton, also shared his son’s knack for being around famous people. A childhood neighbor was the artist Thomas Hart Benton. John Paxton later belonged to the same golfing club as the great Ben Hogan, whom Bill Paxton got to know growing up.

Material from The New York Times was used in this obituary.