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Bill Paxton: A Simple Man Part Two

The actor turned director discusses his new thriller FRAILTY

By Pamela Harland     April 07, 2002


Fan favorite Bill Paxton attends the TOMB RAIDER premiere.
© 2001 Sue Schneider
Actor Bill Paxton is well recognized by audiences for his roles in films like A SIMPLE PLAN, TITANIC and TWISTER, but he's now exploring a different aspect of his career as a director with the dark new thriller FRAILTY. Today, the actor-director continues his discussion about the film.

FRAILTY touches on religious aspects and conviction of one's beliefs. Religion has been manipulated and misconstrued all across the world since time began and Paxton's intrigue with the subject matter is never-ending.

FRAILTY



"In the movie I am destroying demons, I am not killing in the name of God," explains Paxton. "I don't want to get into schematics and rhetoric but to me on the surface if you look at this film for face value it almost looks like a film that is promoting vigilantism and capital punishment. To me the movie was always a familial tragedy."

Acknowledging the overwhelming relevancy of the film in our time of war, Paxton says the film was written, finished and shelved by the time of last year's tragedies which sparked a debate with the studio execs as to whether to release the film and when. After some harsh test screening comments early on, Paxton feels the people are ready to be objective about FRAILTY.

"It seems now people are starting to watch the film for its own sake," says Paxton, in regards to recent test screenings, "and not try to tie in some neo-political situation that is happening in the world."

In fact, being political is the last thing Paxton wants audiences to think he is trying to be with his film's release. He just wants to start the discussion, not lead it.

Bill Paxton directs FRAILTY



"This is not the gospel according to us," confirms Paxton. "In the world of FRAILTY it's overseen by an Old Testament type of deity who wants an act of vengeance and has an atonement for the evil doers. It destroys this family and I think to me it belies the whole folly of man's ego. People have been killing in the name of God since he first climbed out of a cave. But there is a point in modern society here where we have to say, 'Look there has been enlightenment over the last couple of hundred years and people are people regardless of their orientation and we have got to learn to be a more tolerant society.'"

Although Paxton tries to stay clear of being an overzealous celebrity shoving his opinions down the public's throat, he can't help but to continue his point.

"I am against capital punishment," says Paxton. "I am not a politician. I am an actor. I am a filmmaker and I am telling a story. If this creates thought provoking discussions then I am all for it. But I am more into creating the discussion, I am not here to be the moderator."

Still, Paxton is not without his strong opinions, revealing what he thinks is the key to getting through life happily.

Bill Paxton stars in FRAILTY



"I think the 10 Commandments are basically here to say, 'Hey if you follow these you probably will have a better chance at a better life,'" says Paxton. "I don't believe in life after death, I believe in life before death. And I don't want to use this movie to become some platform for me to state what my personal beliefs are. I think that's dangerous. I believe one needs to have either some strong religious beliefs or some strong philosophical beliefs just to get through life."

Paxton's strong convictions are what make him a focused actor and now a committed director. With no plans to completely abandon his acting career, Paxton is still waiting for the public's approval of his directorial debut - which he calls a "real challenge" to see what to do next.

"I feel like a guy who's performed his first surgery," says Paxton. "After going through residency and everything else I'd like to continue practicing medicine if they'll let me."

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