Over the weekend, the world was shocked by news that actor Bill Paxton had passed away suddenly, at the age of 61, due to complications from heart surgery,
In his decades-long career, Paxton starred in iconic films like Twister, Titanic, Apollo 13, Aliens, and The Terminator; gravel-voiced, with soulful, expressive eyes, Paxton was a natural fit in dramatic roles. But he was also a strong comedic performer, with memorable parts in Stripes and Weird Science.
Paxton recently appeared on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron – very recently, on February 7th of this year. The episode description, now, seems almost ominous: “If Bill Paxton hadn’t suffered from rheumatic fever when he was growing up in Texas, he might not be in show business.”
In the interview, Paxton talks about being a bored 7th grader, stuck at home in Fort Worth, Texas, recovering from a particularly nasty bout of rheumatic fever. “I spent a good part of 7th grade in bed,” he says, recalling the few activities he was allowed during recuperation – reading, watching TV, observing his family and neighbors – helped spark his interest in, and cultivate key skills for, a future as an actor. “It kind of isolated me at an interesting age… suddenly I was in this kind of voyeuristic world.”
Less common these days, but still dangerous, rheumatic fever is known to cause permanent heart damage – which, Paxton sadly reveals, is what happened to him.
He also tells Maron about his early years as a set dresser, his obsession with the Kennedys, improvising lines on the Weird Science set, and being told he wasn’t “weird enough to be an actor.”
The episode is available on WTFpod.com and below.