James Cameron Remembers Bill Paxton As 'a Good Man, a Great Actor'

James Cameron and Bill Paxton in Ghosts of the Abyss

Following the news today of the death of versatile actor Bill Paxton, Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron released a statement remembering his longtime friend and frequent collaborator. "The world is a lesser place for his passing," the director wrote in an email to Vanity Fair, "and I will profoundly miss him."

"I've been reeling from this for the past half hour, trying to wrap my mind and heart around it," Cameron said. "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."

Cameron cast Paxton in a series of films, beginning with 1984's "The Terminator," and continuing with 1986's "Aliens," 1994's "True Lies" and 1997's "Titanic." The two later reunited in 2003 for "Ghost in the Abyss," which followed Cameron and a group of scientists on an expedition to the wreck of RMS Titanic, where they obtained the best images ever seen of the ship's remains. Paxton joined his old friend on the journey, and served as the film's narrator.

"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," Cameron continued in his statement. "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. I hope that amid the gaudy din of Oscar night, people will take a moment to remember this wonderful man, not just for all the hours of joy he brought to us with his vivid screen presence, but for the great human that he was."

Paxton, whose career spanned four decades and also included roles in "Apollo 13," "Big Love" and "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," died Saturday following complications from surgery. He was 61.

He's survived by his wife, Louise Newbury, and two children.

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