Like he did with a lot of other movies, Bill Paxton stole True Lies with just over ten minutes of screentime. James Cameron was close friends with Bill Paxton, who became part of an ensemble of actors he worked with repeatedly, which also includes Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, and Jenette Goldstein. Paxton first played a punk in Cameron's The Terminator back in 1984, before playing iconic cowardly marine Hudson in Aliens and treasure hunter Brock Lovett in Titanic.
Paxton would make a career out of scene-stealing performances, including Chet in Weird Science, Jerry Lambert in Predator 2 and a guest spot on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. While he excelled at hammy comic roles he was also a great dramatic performer too, which can be seen in underrated thriller One False Move, TV series Big Love and his directorial debut Frailty. Paxton tragically passed away in 2017 at the age of 61 but left behind a pretty incredible body of work.
Perhaps one of his underrated performances came from James Cameron's True Lies in 1994. This action-comedy involves Arnold Schwarzenegger's (Terminator: Dark Fate) spy hiding his secret life from his wife, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. He later discovers she might be having an affair with a sleazy car dealer posing as an undercover agent, played by Paxton.
True Lies' comedy may not have aged well in certain ways and it feels like the odd man out of Cameron's filmography, being sandwiched between Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Titanic. It's still pretty enjoyable, however, and Cameron's trademark flair for action setpieces is correct and present. While Tom Arnold as Schwarzenegger's partner gets some great lines, the movie's MVP has to be Paxton as Simon, who is a suave, achingly sincere spy during his scenes with Curtis, whilst being unbearably skeezy when he drops the act.
It's a note perfect comic performance and while it could be argued this whole subplot could have been trimmed or even dropped completely, Paxton adds so much to True Lies it's hard to picture it without him. He also channels some of Hudson's old cowardice when Schwarzenegger's spy is threatening him. Simon is so memorable it's odd to note the character only really appears on screen for just over ten minutes.
Bill Paxton continued to steal scenes in the years that followed, including in two of his final projects Nightcrawler and Edge Of Tomorrow. Despite all of the special effects and impressive action in True Lies, it's Paxton's performance as Simon that leaves a lasting impression.