Whether he was watching cows fly before his eyes or getting his shit handed to him by terminators, aliens, and predators, Bill Paxton was always, always, always a pro at infusing dialogue and direction with humanity and purpose. It's what made him such a character-acting favorite and why his untimely death this weekend, at 61, due to complications from heart, felt so tragic.
The 2017 Oscars last night had to contend with that tragedy in real-time, with Jennifer Aniston offering a choked-up nod to Paxton's life during her on-stage introduction to the Oscars' "In Memoriam" segment. There was no time to adjust the segment proper. As fate would have it, however, another tribute to Paxton's time on this planet came from an unlikely place: an ad for Rolex watches.
Rolex watches have appeared on the big screen almost as long as we've had the big screen, and the minute-long ad, "Celebrating Cinema," features clips of Faye Dunaway, Harrison Ford, Terrence Howard, and more. Paxton's voice rings through halfway into the ad, narrating a scene from 1997's Titanic -- a film in which his whole character arc provides a frame for a nostalgic love story through time itself. His inclusion in the clip was a poignant, if startling, coincidence.
Say what you will about the ad, but it's a fitting tribute to a man who did so much with the time he had. The sum of Paxton's career wasn't Twister, B-movies, acclaimed five-year run on Big Love, or even Frailty -- the awesome film he directed in the early 2000s. (Roger Ebert's effusive four-star review: "Perhaps only a first-time director, an actor who does not depend on directing for his next job, would have had the nerve to make [it].") All that mattered, sure, but he was also a husband and father. He was a creative collaborator who was "like a brother" to his fellow actors. It was the fact that Aniston could barely fight her tears when she said his name on-stage.
All that takes time. And effort. Use yours wisely.