“I’ve been reeling from this for the past half hour, trying to wrap my mind and heart around it,” Cameron said in an email to Vanity Fair. “Bill leaves such a void.”
Cameron and Paxton were frequent collaborators, working together on the likes of “Titanic,” “Aliens,” “True Lies,” and “The Terminator.” They also teamed on a music video for Paxton’s band Martini Ranch. The director said the two met 36 years ago on the set of a Roger Corman film.
“He came in to work on set, and I slapped a paint brush in his hand and pointed to a wall, saying ‘Paint that!,” Cameron said in the statement. “We quickly recognized the creative spark in each other and became fast friends. What followed was 36 years of making films together, helping develop each others’ projects, going on scuba diving trips together, watching each others’ kids growing up, even diving the Titanic wreck together in Russian subs. It was a friendship of laughter, adventure, love of cinema, and mutual respect.”
Paxton died from complications related to surgery. His career included blockbusters such as “Twister” and dark dramas like “One False Move” and “A Simple Plan.” He also played a polygamist in HBO’s “Big Love” for five seasons, earning multiple Golden Globe nominations.
Cameron said Paxton made a point of maintaining strong bonds with friends and family.
“Bill wrote beautiful, heartfelt, and thoughtful letters, an anachronism in this age of digital shorthand,” Cameron added. “He took good care of his relationships with people, always caring and present for others. He was a good man, a great actor, and a creative dynamo.”
News of Paxton’s death hits on the same day as the Academy Awards. That likely means he will not be included in the ceremony’s “in memoriam” segment, as the footage honoring actors and filmmakers who died in the last 12 months is usually locked weeks before the show airs. But Cameron said he hoped the industry found a way to honor Paxton’s talent.
“I hope that amid the gaudy din of Oscar night, people will take a moment to remember this wonderful man, not just for all the hours of joy he brought to us with his vivid screen presence, but for the great human that he was,” said Cameron. “The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him.”