Some movie trivia is so ridiculously well known that I don’t even think it deserves to qualify as “trivia” anymore. By now we all know that Michael Myers’ mask from the original HALLOWEEN was just an off-the-rack Captain Kirk mask, painted white. And we’ve probably all heard that the blood in Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO was actually just chocolate syrup.
And while here’s nothing terribly wrong with this kind of trivia, it eventually gets so well known that it stops being a conversation starter. And when people stop talking about something, they stop questioning it. Which means that sometimes, when our trivia stops being true, there is a serious risk that nobody will even notice for years.
This phenomenon came to my attention very recently, on May 17, the birthday of fan favorite actor/director Bill Paxton. You probably know him as Private Hudson from Aliens, or as Detective Lambert from Predator 2, or as one of those street punks who runs afoul of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the opening of the original The Terminator. He’s one of those actors who seems to have been in everything, isn’t he?
So on Bill Paxton’s birthday this year, Facebook and Twitter was once again flooded with the following piece of movie trivia: “Bill Paxton is the only actor to be killed by an Alien, a Predator and a Terminator.” Pretty cool, huh? It’s a distinction that was quite the feather in Bill Paxton’s cap until it stopped being true twelve whole years ago.
For starters, let’s cover our bases. Bill Paxton was killed by a Xenomorph in ALIENS and by a Predator in PREDATOR 2, no doubt about that. As for THE TERMINATOR, well, all we actually saw was that Bill Paxton got thrown into a pretty flimsy gate by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cybernetic supervillain, so whether or not he actually “died” is already a matter of some debate.
But let’s not be a jerk about this. Let’s just assume that he really was terminated, gate-style, so we can move on to the more important reason why this famous piece of trivia is false.
And that reason is: Lance Henriksen, the other guy who was killed by an Alien, a Predator and a Terminator. Remember him?
Lance Henriksen co-starred in THE TERMINATOR and ALIENS and ALIEN 3 and then – many years later – he also co-starred in ALIEN VS. PREDATOR. He was killed by a Terminator in THE TERMINATOR and he was killed by a Predator in ALIEN VS. PREDATOR. There’s no doubt and no question about that. That’s just fact. That’s what happened.
His death in the ALIEN franchise is a little less cut-and-dry, but it’s only reasonable to argue that he was also killed by the Xenomorphs in ALIENS and ALIEN 3. If you’ll recall, at the end of ALIENS the android – er, sorry, “artificial person” – called Bishop was catastrophically damaged by the Alien Queen. And although he wasn’t officially taken offline until ALIEN 3, he never would have “died” unless he had previously been impaled by a Xenomorph.
So Lance Henriksen’s character was critically wounded by an Alien, and he would have survived if he hadn’t been. Be fair: that counts. If Michael Myers stabbed someone and they died from their injuries at the hospital, or had to be taken off of life support by their family later on, Michael Myers wouldn’t get off on a technicality. So the same holds true for the Xenomorphs. They killed Bishop, and with him, a popular piece of trivia about the ALIEN, PREDATOR and TERMINATOR franchises.
Why am I even making a big deal about this? It’s partly because I love trivia, damn it, and want it to be as accurate as possible (because if it’s not accurate, there’s just no point anymore). But if you’re one of the people who didn’t realize that this popular piece of trivia was no longer true – like a lot of people I talked two on Bill Paxton’s birthday – maybe it’ll act as a sort of minor wakeup call. We all come across a vast wealth of information on the internet, every single day, and just because it sounds good doesn’t mean that all of it is true. Think about what you’re reading and hearing, and every once in a while do a little bit of actual research to make sure that what you’re retweeting is actually true. How could it hurt?
So yeah, I’m sorry, but I just had to debunk your ALIEN, PREDATOR and TERMINATOR trivia. And to Bill Paxton I extend my deepest apologies. Fortunately, a career as rich as Paxton’s gives us plenty more pieces of trivia to share. For example, did you know he directed the music video for “Fish Heads?”
Pretty cool, huh? Ball’s in your court, Lance Henriksen!