Real name: William Paxton
Birthdate: June 17, 1955
Partner: Louise Newbury
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Paxton was born in Fort Worth, Texas to John Lane Paxton, a businessman, lumber wholesaler, museum executive, and occasional actor, and Mary Lou (Gray). Paxton was raised in his mother's Catholic religion. Paxton attended Texas State University (called Southwest Texas State at that time) in San Marcos, TX and then moved to Los Angeles and began working for director Roger Corman as a set designer on his films. Exposure to films and actors at that age influenced his decision to pursue acting and led Paxton to relocate to New York City, where he studied with Stella Adler.
Paxton has played some distinctive and memorable characters including the sneering older brother Chet in John Hughes' Weird Science; Hudson, the loud-mouthed Colonial Marine in James Cameron's Aliens ("Game over, man! Game over!"); astronaut Fred Haise in Ron Howard's Apollo 13; the sadistic vampire Severen in Kathryn Bigelow's film Near Dark; a tornado researcher opposite Helen Hunt in the blockbuster Twister; the treasure hunter who Rose's story is told to in Titanic and the sleazy car salesman in True Lies. Notable is the performance Paxton delivered in Carl Franklin's critically acclaimed One False Move. Paxton has the unique distinction of being the only actor who has played characters killed by an Alien (as Private Hudson in Aliens), a Predator (as Jerry Lambert in Predator 2), and a Terminator (as the punk leader in The Terminator). (Lance Henriksen would be worthy of this distinction but for the word 'kill': his android character was dismembered but still functional and he requested deactivation in the sequel.) Paxton appeared as a treasure hunter searching for a diamond at the wreckage of the Titanic in the 1997 film. Four years later, he joined James Cameron on an expedition to the actual Titanic; a film about this trip, Ghosts of the Abyss, was released in 2003.
In 1988, he and vocalist/guitarist Andrew Todd formed the short-lived rock duo Martini Ranch. They recorded and released an album entitled Holy Cow (the band's only release), which included input from Devo members Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Casale and Alan Myers (all of whom contributed to the album's modest hit "How Can the Labouring Man Find Time For Self-Culture?"), along with Cindy Wilson of the B-52's as a back-up vocalist and actor Judge Reinhold is credited as a whistler on "Reach". Paxton has also directed a number of short films, including Fish Heads, which aired during Saturday Night Live's low-rated 1980-1981 season on the episode hosted by Ellen Burstyn (with musical guests Aretha Franklin and Keith Sykes). He has also directed feature films: Frailty and The Greatest Game Ever Played.
Paxton has been married to Louise Newbury since 1985, and they have two children, James (born 1994) and Lydia (born 1997). Paxton was in the crowd waving when President Kennedy emerged from the Hotel Texas in Ft. Worth the morning of Nov. 22, 1963. There are pictures at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas proving this, as an 8 year old Paxton can clearly be seen hoisted on the shoulders of an unidentified man.
James Cameron gave Paxton the nick name "Knuckles." In a local bar during the filming of True Lies, Paxton warned off a disgruntled local by donning an iron knuckleduster given to him by Lance Henriksen.