Soon after news of Bill Paxton’s passing made the rounds on Sunday, tributes from social media, Twister-inspired storm chasers and the Oscars poured in for veteran actor. Many, especially the entertainment industry professionals who chimed in on Twitter, mentioned the same thing — that Paxton was a genuinely nice guy in a business that isn’t always kind to those who participate. Conan O’Brien echoed these sentiments on Monday with a personal story about something Paxton did for a Conan field producer.
“I’m a huge fan of the movie Tombstone,” explained O’Brien, continuing to add that so was his field producer, Jason Schalemi. “Jason Schalemi and I found out Val Kilmer was going to be doing a play not far from where we tape here in Burbank. He’s going to be playing Mark Twain. We go and see it, and turns out he was amazing doing Mark Twain. But we go to see Val Kilmer in this play, we get in, we’re taking our seats and all of sudden someone taps me on the shoulder. It’s Bill Paxton.”
After Paxton and O’Brien exchanged pleasantries, the talk show host singled out his field producer and told the actor how much he loved Tombstone. “Bill Paxton went, ‘Which guy is he?’ I said, ‘Right there, Jason.’ He said, ‘His name’s Jason?’ I said yeah. He goes over, walks over to Jason and goes, ‘Hey Jason,’ and starts whispering in Jason’s ear. Jason has a beard and it almost falls off and his eyes get as big as quarters.”
Paxton’s stunt lasted “for awhile,” according to O’Brien, who later found out from his employee that the actor had recited every single one of his character’s lines from Tombstone for the awestruck fan. In other words, Jason heard a quick, private performance of the 1993 film — at least from Morgan Earp’s perspective.