Bill Paxton‘s career began in the early 80s, with small roles in Ivan Reitman’s Stripes, Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire, and then playing the leader of a punk gang in James Cameron’s The Terminator. This was the start of a beautiful friendship that lasted between the pair – through 1986’s Aliens and 1997’s Titanic.
Cameron and Paxton even had the bonding experience of surviving the ‘PCP-laced clam chowder’ poisoning incident while making Titanic, and there is a video that has circled the internet that appears to show Paxton breaking the news of 9/11 to Cameron for the first time. Paxton also starred in Kathryn Bigelow’s brilliant vampire movie Near Dark when Bigelow and Cameron were a couple.
Given that Paxton was already friends with Cameron when Aliens came around, you’d expect him to have been a shoe-in for the role of Hudson. But Paxton explained that it wasn’t quite that simple in an interview with Den of Geek in 2013; “At the time I was so excited to get the call from Jim Cameron, who I was a good friend of, but a lot of times your friends are the last people to hire you, but not Jim.”
Paxton continued; “I auditioned and thought I did okay, but I didn’t think I got it….My name came up and Jim said, ‘Well I know Bill, would the studio be okay with him?’ and [Scott Rudin, producer said] ‘Well he’s getting some very good notices for a John Hughes comedy movie called Weird Science,’ and so Jim said, ‘Well gosh, I’d love to cast Bill,’ and Scott said ‘Well, we’ll back that.'”
Paxton concluded that getting the part was only half the battle; “I got the call and Jim said, ‘I want you to join us on Aliens.’ And I couldn’t believe my good fortune! But making the movie was kind of daunting for me, because it was a character that had an energy that was hard to sustain, but it’s become a classic. God, my son told me you can go on the internet and somebody’s cut all my lines from the movie together in a montage! [laughs]”