I never knew much about Bill Paxton, other than he was an absolute gem as the bullying older brother, Chet, in Weird Science and obviously near-perfect in the should-be-iconic blockbuster, Twister. Rob Lowe, however, was very dear friends with Paxton, and so he is frequently mentioned in Rob Lowe’s podcast, Literally. Given the way that Lowe frequently talks about Paxton, who died of a stroke at the too-early age of 61 in 2017, I think he could best be described as a “colorful character.” I would also say, in the way that Lowe affectionately caricatures him, that Paxton was very Texan.
In this week’s episode of Literally with Rob Lowe, Lowe spoke to Jimmy Kimmel, but in the course of his conversation, Lowe got off on a tangent while speaking about how “quotable” his friend Bill Paxton was. To wit, Paxton’s last major role was Det. Frank Rourke — the Denzel Washington role — in the CBS television adaptation of Training Day. “Bill had never done a network TV show,” Lowe said,” and when Lowe asked him how it was going, Paxton gave Lowe one of his memorable quotes. “Well, yeah, Rob, we’re making widgets on this one. I wish the scripts were better.”
Lowe also spoke of a talk show appearance that Paxton once made on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show around the time that Apollo 13 was released. “He was clearly playing to the Academy voters,” Lowe said. “He couldn’t give a crap about getting the audience to come to the movie. It was purely, he wanted those votes for that movie. He was like, “God, it’s Apollo 13. The technology that went into putting that rocket into space. I mean, COME ON. It’s the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” he said, emphasizing “science” under the belief that it would get him more Oscar votes for a movie about space. “He thought that was the way in. There was science in the movie.”
Lowe also spoke about the 2010 Golden Globes and his “obsession” with the “box moments,” when the nominees are all pictured in a box on a telecast as the reader is being read. “My two favorite ‘box moments,'” Lowe said, “were Burt [Reynolds] losing for Boogie Nights where everybody thought he was going to win, he thought he was going to win, and his face! If he had an actual thought balloon, it could not have been more clear,” and his face would have said, “‘I knew these guys would f**k me.” That is his exact face, although he lost to a very worthy nominee, Robin Williams for his role in Good Will Hunting.
The other one, however was “my dear departed friend, Bill Paxton. When he was nominated for Big Love. Big Love was out, and he was opposite a lot of great people, including Dexter, the serial killer show on Showtime, and Michael C. Hall, who is great. And Michael C. Hall had bravely battled and won a lymphoma battle. Remember that?”
“So the show is off the year, come back, and he’s sitting [in the audience] and they got the box on him, and they go, ‘And the winner is … Michael C. Hall.’ Bill turns to his wife, and I can remember it because I’m a lip reader. Clear as day, he goes, ‘Aww. the cancer card.”
Lowe is not wrong. If you rewatch it, it’s fairly obvious that is what Paxton is saying at the 48-second mark.
“It was right before social media is what it is today,” Lowe said, “Because today, for sure [he’d have been called out] because you don’t get away with anything.”
For the record, Michael C. Hall very much deserved that award, having been nominated for an Emmy six times, including five times for his role as Dexter. He was also nominated five times for a Golden Globe in that role, although his only win was in 2010. This particular nomination and win came after the series fourth season, which was one of the best if not the best season of Dexter. Moreover, the voters wouldn’t have even known because Hall didn’t go public with his cancer diagnosis until that very Golden Globes ceremony in which he won, arriving with his wife at the time (co-star Jennifer Morgan) while wearing a knit cap to cover his head, after having lost his hair due to chemotherapy treatment.
Source: Literally with Rob Lowe