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National

Remembering Actor Bill Paxton Who Died Sunday At Age 61

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Actor Bill Paxton has died at the age of 61 after complications following heart surgery. Paxton was known for TV shows like "Big Love" and movies from "Titanic" to "Twister." I always remember him as Chet, the big brother from the movie "Weird Science." NPR's Ted Robbins has this appreciation.

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: Bill Paxton looked like a good guy, with a wide open smile and gentle eyes. Even with animals flying around in the middle of a tornado in the 1996 movie "Twister," he exuded calm.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TWISTER")

HELEN HUNT: (As Dr. Jo Harding) Another cow.

BILL PAXTON: (As Bill Harding) Actually, I think that was the same one.

ROBBINS: Though, he did kind of lose it in "Aliens," when he and his fellow soldiers suffered a setback.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ALIENS")

PAXTON: (As Private Hudson) Game over, man, it's game over.

ROBBINS: Bill Paxton grew up in Texas, the son of a hardwood salesman. In 2009, he told Terry Gross on WHYY's Fresh Air that he learned those salesman skills from his dad.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

PAXTON: I've been an actor most of my life, my adult life. And you certainly have to know how to sell yourself to get on in this profession.

ROBBINS: Paxton is credited with appearing in 93 movies and TV shows. From 2006 to 2011, he played Bill Henrickson, the head of a polygamist family on HBO's "Big Love." Here he is telling his three wives they can't take the kids to a block party for fear of being found out.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BIG LOVE")

PAXTON: (As Bill Henrickson) That's enough. We're not fighting about this. We've all become too casual, conversation and coming and going from the houses, borrowing cars. It's a wake-up call to become more vigilant.

ROBBINS: "Big Love" co-creator Mark V. Olsen said on HBO, the show was built around Paxton.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK V. OLSEN: There were so many colors to Bill, and his - and his personality and what he brought to the table. There was a decency.

ROBBINS: Bill Paxton's real family, two children and a wife, said in a written statement, Bill's passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. Ted Robbins, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.