Seven Holes for Air Panel with Bill Paxton

Star of films such as Aliens, Near Dark, Twister and Titanic, actor and director Bill Paxton was at Theatre A, the main stage at London’s MCM Expo, to talk about the latest graphic novel that he had produced, Seven Holes for Air. He took the time to answer questions from fans, talking about what he was proud of, his influences, as well as delivering ‘that’ iconic line from Aliens. 

The graphic novel tells the story of Bob Rourke, a 50-year-old steelworker who happens to smoke and drink (Paxton describes him as, “very hardcore”). He ends up visiting the doctor for the first time in his life after suffering a persistent headache. The news is not good, as Bob is told that a disease has taken over his body and he doesn’t have long left. Bob goes back home, and back to work and envisions himself in an alternate Spaghetti Western reality, where his antagonists in real life become villains in his Western. With death just around the corner, Bob struggles with the ghosts from his past and the desire to leave something behind for his wife and daughter.

Seven Holes for Air was written by screenwriter John McLaughlin, who handed it to Paxton believing that the script could eventually turn into a feature film. “I thought it might take several years to get made into a movie, but it might be kind of fun to turn into a graphic novel,” said Paxton. He revealed how he hired his friend Mick Reinman to “do the drawings,” saying how, “he’s kind of a macho guy and he would connect with this story, which he did.” After that they then brought in Rob Levin to edit it together. “Because I had never produced one of these things, it was crucial that I brought in an editor,” said Paxton.

Paxton described the graphic novel is “a total labour of love,” saying, “the best art is done that way. We didn’t make it thinking, ‘Oh, this could make a lot of money.’ We made it because we love the story and we thought other people would too. Producing this, I’ve not only created an opportunity for myself perhaps, but it’s exciting when you can actually create opportunities for other people. This screenplay could have just ended up on a shelf unproduced.”

Paxton also drew on his experience as a film director when it came to putting the graphic novel together. “I’m very old school when I make a movie,” he said. “I do a lot of previsualisation; I’m a huge believer in storyboards. Really the graphic novel is an extension of the storyboards.”

Once the panel was opened up to the audience to ask questions, the first one fired towards Paxton was whether he had taken any inspiration from his film roles in Near Dark or Aliens when it came to producing Seven Holes for Air. “Near Dark has a little genesis in Seven Holes for Air,” said Paxton. “That was a great experience for me because I got to work with Kathryn Bigelow. You learn different things on different projects; they can only help you later on. It’s just experience really.”

A member of the audience then asked if he drew any influences from any other comic book characters for the graphic novel. “I don’t know if I could say specifically any one influence,” said Paxton, “But I really liked all of [Frank] Miller’s stuff with The Dark Knight.”

He was then asked about his role on the TV series Big Love and whether he actually read the Book of Mormon! “Yes I did,” said Paxton. “It’s a great piece of science fiction writing,” he joked, which drew laughs. He was then handed a copy of the book and said, “Maybe we can turn this into a graphic novel!”

Asked about his involvement on the adaptation of Kung-Fu he said that he would be directing it, but he would not be taking a role in it. “When I heard that [Legendary Entertainment] were looking for a director, I jumped in there. We’re waiting to set that movie up.”

One fan then said to Paxton that he didn’t have a question; he just wanted him to say his iconic line from Aliens! “It’s game over man, whatta we gonna do?” revelled Paxton, enjoying the reaction. He said it twice, and both times it drew whoops and applause from the crowd!

When asked about his role in Twister with Helen Hunt, he was questioned about what it was like filming a movie about natural disasters. “Are you talking about Helen Hunt, or are you talking about the twister?” joked Paxton “When I got that role, it was really kind of a dream come true. I grew up in the Midwest and tornados are a part of life down there. That was a lot of fun making that movie and I always wanted to make a sequel to it. I guess now if we did a sequel I’d have to have some teenage son or daughter!”

Another audience question brought the topic back to Aliens, asking Paxton what his favourite Hudson scene was. “Probably the ones that got cut out,” he responded. “When I did that movie I thought I was so over the top. I was a very young actor then and I thought I really sucked in that whole thing. Then the movie came out and everybody loved the character Hudson because he kind of said everything that the audience was feeling. I realised that Jim Cameron was very smart in the way he used my character to be almost like a pressure release valve. I wasn’t really crazy about my work, but I’m glad people like it.”

He was then asked if he had a favourite project. “I’m very proud of Frailty which I directed,” said Paxton of his first feature film as a director. “I’ve been very lucky. I’ve kicked around a long time and I’ve had some great opportunities. There’s a movie I’ve just finished that I’m pretty proud of called 2 Guns, that’s based on a graphic novel and stars Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. I’m really excited about this film I’m doing right now, All You Need Is Kill, with Tom Cruise,” which Paxton is currently filming here in the UK.

“If you get the right part it can really open up a whole lot of opportunities for you,” said Paxton mulling over what his favourite role has been. “I guess if I was to say what my favourite was… probably my most dramatic work was in a movie called A Simple Plan, directed by Sam Raimi. That’s probably the greatest dramatic role I ever did. Hollywood likes its tragedy with a happy ending; they don’t make a lot of ‘real’ tragedies. It was great to be a part of that.”

A somewhat similar question followed when he was asked about the proudest moment of his career. “I think it might have been getting a chance to go down to the Titanic with Jim Cameron,” said Paxton, referring to the documentary Ghosts of the Abyss. “He did an expedition in 2001 and he asked me to go along. I got to go down to the ship four times and that was something a lot of people can’t say they’ve done. It’s down there, and it’s in two pieces!”

Given that Seven Holes for Air has been released online Paxton was questioned on if there were any plans to release it in print. “No. I think it’s almost a vanity to put it out in a hardback. I would love to; it would be a beautiful thing to hold. But for practical purposes this was a great way to get it out there and make it available to people all over the planet instantly. That’s what’s amazing about this digital universe that we’re all in, we’re literally in the infancy of something that’s already changed the world in a matter of a decade. For me it’s exciting that I didn’t have to go and shop this thing around. I’ve been able to put it out myself.”

“You know what? Never pimp your friends,” said Paxton. “Especially if they’re guys like James Cameron.” This was in response to being asked if he was involved in any of Cameron’s future projects. “He’s got my number,” said Paxton. When later asked if there was any director that influenced him in his work he couldn’t help but name Cameron again. “That guy is probably the most intuitive, brilliant filmmaker I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch work.” He also cited Buster Keaton as his all time idol, saying, “His life and his movies have always influenced me.”

Asked if he would ever reprise his role as Simon the car salesman in a True Lies sequel, Paxton said, “Absolutely! There was going to be a sequel. I talked to Jim about it a couple of times, poor old Tom Arnold calls Jim Cameron every week to ask about the sequel. But I’m not sure where that’s at now.”

Finally, Paxton was questioned on if there were any roles he turned down and later regretted, only to say, “All the roles that Greg Kinnear got I pretty much turned down… and he got nominated for an Academy Award! You have to try and choose your projects and I’ve not always done that.”

And with that the panel drew to a close, but for the audience it was far from game over! Within seconds Paxton was swarmed by a number attendees all clutching various bits memorabilia for him to sign; yet he didn’t have a problem with it, clearly happy to talk and sign for his fans.

Seven Holes for Air is now available to purchase on Graphicly, Amazon UK and iTunes.


All images supplied by Charlie Read.

Copyright © 2012 MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews