Last night at the Spirit Awards Andy Samberg did a bit where he re-purposed the lyrics of Pearl Jam’s “Alive” to reference various celebrities who are still alive. It was a strange attempt to present a humorous alternative to the mandatory, but increasingly morose “In Memoriam” sections of awards shows. The blunt punchline: celebrities are dropping so fast these days that Samberg couldn’t even make it to the end of the song until Fred Armisen died (or, to be clear, pretended to die so the hosts could then escort his body away in a kind of Weekend at Bernies scenario).
It’s now less than 24 hours after Samberg’s bit and two celebrities have died, first Bill Paxton (at age 61 from surgery-related complications) and The People’s Court’s Judge Wapner (at 97 from, I don’t know, complicates related to the fact that he was 97).
Is it too early to start saying, “Fuck you, 2017!” the way we did with 2016? There’s already everything with Trump and the unmaking of America. Now, we’ve lost Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Paxton and Wapner.
Okay. Wapner was 97. We should all be so lucky.
But Paxton? The guy people always confused with Bill Pullman? This the actor whose lack of restraint as an actor always made him oddly more endearing, with schlocktastic performances in movies like Terminator, Weird Science, Predator 2, Twister and Titanic winning over a generation of fans who grew up quoting the oft-repeated “Game over, man!” line from Aliens. He’s dead? He was only 61!
James Cameron mourned Paxton’s passing by releasing a statement, part of which is included below:
Bill leaves such a void. He and I were close friends for 36 years, since we met on the set of a Roger Corman ultra-low budget movie. He came in to work on set, and I slapped a paint brush in his hand and pointed to a wall, saying “Paint that!” 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. Bill wrote beautiful heartfelt and thoughtful letters, an anachronism in this age of digital shorthand. 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.
And I mourn his passing by writing this article and watching his scenes from Aliens on YouTube. When I think of his filmography, which grew in his later years to include respectable turns on TV shows like Big Love, I still automatically go to Aliens and the knife trick scene (included 53 seconds into the below video):
According to ScreenRant’s recent Aliens trivia list:
Private Hudson, played by Bill Paxton, is one of the most memorable characters in Aliens. He is jittery, pessimistic, and punctuates his anxiety with morbid humor. According to Paxton, he improvised the majority of Hudson’s lines, including the now iconic “Game over, man. Game over!” According to Lance Henriksen, who plays Bishop in the film, the infamous knife trick scene was not in the original shooting script, and the decision to add Hudson’s hand to the trick was something that was discussed by everyone on set, except for Paxton.
Game over, man. Game over far too soon.