The Great Bill Paxton

I’ve only worked once with Bill, and it was not long ago… the pilot for his last project Training Day. We were all excited to work with him as the stories of his professionalism and easy going sense of humor were legendary. He was as humble as can be… fun and treated my crew with such respect and humor… talking to the grips, electricians and camera people between takes. Just a sweet nice guy and magnificently talented. On one of our off-days, I decided to watch Apollo 13, in which Bill played astronaut Fred Haise. Upon Fred getting sick in space and vomiting over the cabin of the Apollo Spacecraft, the other astronauts in the scene radioed that Fred might be skipping his next meal. To which Fred replied (pardon the language); “I’m hungry. I could eat the ass out of a dead Rhinoceros.” I remember falling over laughing when I heard Bill say that line, so when I saw him on the following Monday, I made a point of telling him how great he was in that film and how much I loved that line delivery. Bill said; “I added that line. It wasn’t in the script. Gary Busey gave me that line and said he had been trying to work it into his dialogue for years but never could do it… so he sorta gave the line to me to use, and I was able to work it in there. The problem was, I called Gary that night and told him I used the rhinoceros line and he told me he had since used it himself in a film. That son of a bitch.” Haha. Bill’s story about the line was even funnier than the line. Later that same day, we got a little behind on our day and the Director of the project got a little impatient with the crew and with frustration that his day had gotten slightly away from him, shouted to the crew from the video monitors to hurry up so he could shoot. Because Bill stood with us all day long, he could see that the crew was working hard and that the demands of the day were quite ambitious. So, he elected to lighten the mood by shouting to the crew with a half grin; “Let’s go you sons of bitches! Godammit you guys are all useless… every last one of you! C’mon you bastards!” The crew couldn’t stop laughing and even the Director appreciated Bill’s levity. What a guy. Rest in peace Bill.


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