These are the core qualities of Bill Paxton, both as a man and an actor. They are the elements rooted in almost every character he played, no matter where they ultimately landed on the spectrum of morality or bravery. These are the starting points, and every man he played either held fast or strayed from that center.
In real life, the actor, who died Sunday at age 61, was as genuine as they come. A true-life good guy. Curious, kind. Always reaching out.
As fundamentally generous and kind as he was in real life, Paxton was also deeply curious about the push and pull between the dark and light side of human nature. As an artist, he was mesmerized by the draw of savagery, of cruelty, of the lost perspective that allows someone to become unmoored, tumbling headlong into unspeakable behavior — without ever realizing (until it’s maybe too late) how far they’d gone.
Paxton directed and starred in a dark little gem of a horror movie called Frailty(2001) about a man who thinks demons walk among us. The character he plays, the father of two boys he’s drawing into his bizarre gospel, is definitely crazy. But he may also — possibly — be right.
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