Legacy: Stories Continued
“My dad was my best friend. I would go to him on advice for anything,” says James Paxton, following in his father Bill Paxton’s footsteps. The 25-year-old actor grew up in a “small hippie town,” known as Ojai, California, where “everyone knows each other.” It was under the California sun where he was introduced to film by none other than his father. He was exposed to filmmaking and production while admiring his traveling father’s projects and the creative atmosphere – it is how he was able to discover a true passion for acting and storytelling.
Paxton completed high school and moved to New York City where he studied journalism in college since he wanted to tell stories and travel by becoming a reporter. However, prior to graduating, he was hospitalized and had to take a leave of absence. Eventually, his time spent home recovering provided him the opportunity to re-evaluate his direction. “The more I stayed, the more I realized I wasn’t going back,” he recalls. His father then suggested that he should move to Los Angeles. There, he began working on the sets of various productions, including Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and was reminded of his passion after a new kind of exposure to a world in which he grew up loving. He finally decided (and wanted) to become an actor in order to bring stories to life. He went to his father for guidance, and was told that if this was something he really wanted, he needed to throw himself “100% into the craft.” He was introduced to his dad’s life-long acting coach Vincent Chase and started to take acting classes. After getting an agent and manager, he started landing supporting roles. And, moreover, after what seemed like a thousand auditions in the field of “a war of attrition,” he booked what he says is his biggest project to date: Lukas Waldenbeck on Eyewitness. This was simply “a dream come true” to Paxton, who has since worked on other various projects, such as Alien’s 40th-anniversary short films and the vampire film Bit.
Paxton admits that acting isn’t easy and can certainly be challenging but says, “You need to trust that if you have done the work and you are prepared, you just rock out. Don’t let anyone discourage you and tell you, ‘You can’t do it,’ or ‘You aren’t enough.’ There is no point in that kind of thinking.” His dad was hard on Paxton in many respects but he “was giving me all these insights that took decades in the business to learn.” His father tragically passed away in 2017 but Paxton does not let this discourage himself. Rather, he feels “very connected to him doing this.”
Paxton hopes to one day have more control over the entire project, referring to directing as the ultimate goal for his career. “I’m learning while I am earning,” he elaborates. “Every time I am on set, I always pay attention to other people on set and how everyone works together. Right now, it’s just one project at a time, but I’m not going to stop anytime soon. I am never going to quit!”
Writer: Olivia Walker
Photographer, Stylist & Men’s Grooming: Al David
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)