It’s in the Urban Dictionary. Pax·ton·nat·ed. It’s “when a movie or television show includes or has been permeated by the actor Bill Paxton.” Some actors just make the films they appear in better, no matter how bad the film might be as a whole or how small the role. Bill Paxton is one of those actors. He’s not an A-list star but he has a loyal following that knows the value of casting him in anything. At WonderCon, there was a panel for the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow. With no Tom Cruise in sight, the 4,000 plus people in the arena seemed uninterested — until Bill Paxton walked on stage. The arena exploded in applause. That’s what it means to Paxtonate something. Here’s a list of the 10 best Paxtonated films, but honestly, he’s just damn good in everything he does and is always memorable even when the films aren’t.
1. Severen in Near Dark (1987)
It was a tough call picking the most Paxtonated film of all and it’s a photo finish between Near Dark and Aliens but I give the edge to Near Dark because Severen is such a wildly entertaining character. Kathryn Bigelow’s modern vampire tale casts Paxton as one of a “family” of vampires that includes Lance Henriksen and Jenette Goldstein (who co-starred with Paxton in Aliens) as the parental figures. Paxton plays his vamp as if he were the big man on campus. He struts across the screen, all hopped up on his immortality and invincibility. You just can’t take your eyes off him. He’s hilarious and terrifying all at once, and has the best lines in the film. The bar scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Best Lines: [about to bite a victim on the neck] “I hate ‘em when they ain’t been shaved.”[Enjoying the last drops of blood from a victim] “It’s finger lickin’ good.”
“Howdy. I’m gonna separate your head from your shoulders. Hope you don’t mind none.”
“It ain’t what’s goin’ on, son. It’s what’s comin’ off. Your face. Clean off.”
2. Pvt. Hudson in Aliens (1986)
Sigourney Weaver may be the star and Ripley the character that saves the world again but Paxton – as he always seems to do – simply steals the show. You can’t walk away from this film without quoting him and he’s easily the most memorable character. He starts as a character we laugh at. Remember him asking Jenette Goldstein’s Vasquez, “Have you ever been mistaken for a man?” And then her quick put down, “No, have you?” But Paxton’s charisma soon wins us over and his Hudson proves to be a touchstone for the audience as he reflects our fears in the face of an all out alien assault.
Best Line: “That’s it, man. Game over, man. Game over, what the f-ck are we supposed to now, huh, what are we gonna do?”
Plus this one added into the special edition: “I’m ready, man, check it out. I am the ultimate badass! State of the badass art! You do NOT wanna f-ck with me.”
3. Chet in Weird Science (1985)
This almost topped the list because it’s the role that got everyone’s attention. He plays your worst nightmare of a big brother to Ilan Mitchell-Smith in John Hughes’ teen comedy Weird Science. He’s everything you hate in an older sibling: obnoxious, bullying, mean. He also delivers such eloquently memorable lines as: “How about a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?” and “Boy, I wouldn’t give a squirt of piss for your ass right now.” Chet gets his comeuppance in the end and Paxton has proven more memorable than Kelly LeBrock.
Best Lines: “It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out monkey dick.”
“You two donkey-dicks couldn’t get laid in a morgue.”
4. Hank in A Simple Plan (1998)
A Simple Plan offers a change of pace for both Paxton and director Sam Raimi. For Raimi, it was a serious drama (Raimi’s best known for his Evil Dead films), and for Paxton it was a dramatic starring role. It was also a more subdued role than Paxton is usually tapped for. He plays a small town businessman who, along with two friends, discovers a crashed plane and $4 million in cash. While his buddies (Billy Bob Thorton being one) revel in their good fortune, Paxton’s Hank provides a contrary voice, suggesting that taking the money is the wrong thing to do. This is one of Paxton’s finest, most understated performances.
Best Line: “You work for the American Dream. You don’t steal it.”
5. Dad Mieks in Frailty (2001)
This film gets double the Paxtonation as Paxton both stars in and directs the film. It’s a strange, creepy tale about a man who claims God has given him the ability to see demons and it’s his duty to kill them. Daddy Mieks makes it a family affair as he tries train his sons to kill the demons as well. Paxton has not really pursued directing but I wouldn’t mind seeing more films Paxtonated from behind the camera.
Best Lines: “Only demons should fear me. You’re not a demon are you? The angel said you were. I can’t believe that. I won’t. You’re my son, and I love you more than my own life. You know what’s funny about all this Fenton? I’m afraid of you.”
“You can’t make things like that up, son. Killing people is wrong, destroying demons is good. Don’t worry, God will send you your own list when you’re older.”
6. Dale “Hurricane” Dixon in One False Move (1992)
Paxton’s role in One False Move parallels that in Aliens in the sense that his character initially comes off as a bit dim or comical but through the course of the film he changes. One False Move is dramatically richer than Aliens and Paxton kicks up his game to meet the challenges. The gritty crime tale involves a pair of LA cops who follow their suspects to a small town in Arkansas where they enlist the help of the local chief of police, Dixon. This might be Paxton’s most complex performance.
Best Line: “Lila, even if I wanted to, I can’t help you. I don’t have the legal authority.”
7. Zachary Cody in The Last Supper (1995)
Paxton is the catalyst in this film. A group of five liberal minded friends are unhinged when one of the group brings home a stranger for dinner. Paxton is Zach, the stranger who gave one of the friends a ride home and then inexplicably attacks him. It takes someone like Paxton to create a character that can drive someone to murder. He’s also perfect for a film as darkly comic as this one.
Zachary Cody: “Liberals, never taking a stand you’d be willing to…”
Luke: “To die for?”
Zachary Cody: “Nah. Boy, dying is easy. There is nothing heroic about dying. But if you can take a stand for something you’d be willing to kill for, that is something, something special.”
8. Bill Harding in Twister (1996)
Paxton brings immense likability to his role of a storm chaser whose marriage is as unpredictable as the tornadoes he and his wife chase. This is bright and cheery, family-friendly Paxtonation. Not as fun as his edgier roles but nice to see him toplining a Hollywood picture and pulling in solid numbers at the box office.
Best Line: “It’s the Fujita scale. It measures a tornado’s intensity by how much it eats.”
9. Earl in 2 Guns (2013)
Dumb movie. The ridiculous plot – based on a violent comic — involves stolen money, double crosses, and murder. But it’s a dumb movie made watchable by Paxton’s corrupt CIA enforcer Earl who simply does not give up. This is one of his over-the-top, chew up the scenery roles and he seems to relish it as much as the audience does.
Best Lines: [holding guns on DEA commander] “Your man Bobby Trench stole 43 million of our dollars. We’d like it back. Because it’s our money. Because it’s a blatant act of disrespect. And because it’s our money.”
“You ever play Russian roulette? Thing is, most people put the gun to the temple. Well, that’s just stupid. You blow a man’s head off ‘fore he’s had a chance to tell you what you wanna know.”
10. Morgan Earp in Tombstone (1993)
A Paxtonated Western! Most of Paxton’s roles are contemporary but here he plays one of the famous Earp brothers involved in the notorious shootout at the O.K. Corral. Top to bottom this film had a great cast. Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp, and Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo. And the shootout is perfectly executed.
Best Line: “Look at all the stars. You look up and you think, “God made all this and He remembered to make a little speck like me. It’s kind of flattering, really.”
* * * * *
Bonus Paxtonation: As John Garrett in TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014), he totally Paxtonated the show and brought it back to life. Just like Agent Phil Colson.