In 2016, we lost many of the acting world’s great and good – and so it’s only fitting that they should be remembered at the 2017 Oscars.
Dressed in a shimmering Versace gown, Jennifer Aniston took to the stage to lead this year’s In Memoriam tribute at the Academy Awards.
Noting that the producers of the montage had not had time to include the late Bill Paxton, who tragically died just hours earlier, the Friends star took it upon herself to pay homage to the late Titanic actor.
Beginning her speech with a nod to the late Prince and Carrie Fisher, Aniston said: “Whether a Prince leading the musical revolution, or a princess leading a rebellion in a galaxy far far away, every one was a cherished member of our Hollywood family.”
After taking a moment to compose herself, Aniston continued: “As was beloved friend and actor who left us just yesterday, Bill Paxton.
“Let us remember their lives and their beautiful work. All were loved, and all will be missed.”
As Sara Bareilles sang a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, images of Mary Tyler Moore, Gene Wilder, Kenny Baker, John Hurt, Prince, Robert Vaughn, Anton Yelchin, Garry Marshall, Garry Shandling, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Debbie Reynolds, and Carrie Fisher flashed across the screen.
Alan Rickman and David Bowie were not included in the montage, as they had been already remembered at last year’s ceremony.
Paxton died on Saturday at the age of 61, after suffering a stroke because of issues stemming from his recent heart operation.
Best known for his work on films such as Twister, True Lies, and A Simple Plan, his unexpected passing cast a shadow over the 89th Oscars ceremony.
A statement released by his family on Sunday read: “A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and film-maker.
“Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”
At the time of his death, he was working on a crime thriller TV series - Training Day - for the US network CBS.
He played a morally dubious LAPD officer, Detective Frank Rourke.
Shortly after his death was announced, celebrities took to Twitter to pay homage to Paxton.
Jamie Lee Curtis, who co-starred with Paxton in True Lies in 1994: “Nooooo. Bill Paxton is gone. Such a funny, talented, loving human.”
Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man. A wonderful man... Hanx.— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) February 26, 2017
Bill Paxton could play any role, but he was best at being Bill - a great human being with a huge heart. My thoughts are with his family.— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) February 26, 2017
Tom Hanks, who appears with Paxton in the forthcoming film The Circle, said: “Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man. A wonderful man.”
And Arnold Schwarzenegger, who acted alongside him in Terminator and True Lies, said: “Bill Paxton could play any role, but he was best at being Bill - a great human being with a huge heart. My thoughts are with his family.”
Images: Rex Pictures