A Year Ago, Bill Paxton Was Doing Press in Cannes

Today would have been the actor's 62nd birthday

What a sad difference a year can make.
Headshot of Richard Horgan

The 2017 Cannes Film Festival opens this evening on what would have been actor Bill Paxton’s 62nd birthday. Coupled with press the actor did last year at this time at the event for the movie Mean Dreams, it’s a reminder of how fleeting life can be.

In each and every sun-splashed video interview shot May 16, 2016 a pebble’s throw from the Croisette, Paxton was relaxed and charming, speaking with outlets including People, The Hollywood Reporter and the Chicago Tribune. A mini-junket by the Mediterranean Sea.

Shortly after Paxton passed away in February, another journalist who spent time with him in Cannes, Emily Buder, recalled the experience on Vulture. The actor explained that after planning to live and work in England as a young man, he was forced to return to Fort Worth, where he fell in love with a 17-year-old girl (she told him initially her age was 19):

The young woman was from the upper echelon of Fort Worth society. “Her family was very wealthy and prominent, but her mother and father were Dr. Jekyll–and–Mr. Hyde drunks,” said Paxton. “Every night, it was like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

She would often call Paxton, crying; he says he could hear screaming in the background. “We wouldn’t have anywhere to go, so we would go out to the golf course with a blanket,” he recalled. “Very quickly, this thing came over me that I wanted to protect her. I wanted to get her away from these people. She was a beautiful thing that was just being marred by this situation. And she had to grow up so fast. It went right to the core of my being.”

That is just the start of a twisting and turning life and love story, spanning several decades. A great way to remember Paxton. RIP.

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.