Bill Harding

The twisters came early in the season. The emergency response system warned citizens of the imminent disaster ready to strike. But not all took cover. They needed more time.

Bill Paxton as Bill Harding
Bill Paxton as Bill Harding

When Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) arrives at his old team’s gathering ground holding papers for a divorce with his estranged wife Jo Harding (Helen Hunt), he doesn’t know that his next decision would place him on a course with destiny, and as a feature in Wednesday Warriors.

A scientist. A philosopher. A weather prognosticator. Bill can feel a storm brewing on his skin. He draws dirt from the ground and pours it into the air to measure wind speed, updrafts and wind current. He doesn’t need a barometer to know when a twister is churning in the atmosphere, ready to make an appearance.

Bill Harding is the barometer.

His old crew consists of his wife Jo, an overzealous driver Dustin Davis (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Robert “Rabbit” Nurick (Alan Ruck), Tim “Beltzer” Lewis (Todd Field), and a few other eager storm chasers who follow the direction of their former leader into the mouth of tornadoes.

Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister
Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in Twister

Their mission? To measure the creation, movement and death of a twister. Their problem? They have to get in front of the ravenous beast and drop Dorothy in its path. The whirlwind will then suck the information-gathering instrument into its vortex and produce the statistics Bill and his team needs to understand how tornadoes come to be. Above all, it is his hope the device’s data will one day save lives.

Joining Bill in his quest to intercept a tornado-in-the-making is his current flame Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz). She sees things differently. She sees cows flying across their path as unusual. Sister twisters grazing their truck like a plaything as heart stopping. A monster storm burying them in a hideaway as things of which she can’t compete. She doesn’t even know where to start.

There really isn’t a place for anyone in Bill’s life who can’t keep up with him. It’s not on purpose. He just has a propensity to follow his instincts. If his instincts carry him to drive his truck in the middle of a field while a massive rainstorm twirls overhead, then that is what he’ll do. To him, in the greater scheme of his life, only one thing matters—get Dorothy into the heart of the tornado.

What the character Bill teaches in the movie Twister is that obstacles, problems and difficulties are nothing when a goal is clear and crisp. Hurdles are there to hop over. Complications are there to overcome. Whatever stands in his way, he is ready to confront head-on.

Bill shows what it means to dedicate oneself to a passion.

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you think of the character Bill Harding in the film Twister?

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11 thoughts on “Bill Harding

  1. Never seen the film. Don’t like high winds, but late one night I had to go outside in a furious storm to secure the gates in the drive and I never felt more alive than being there in the teeth of that storm.

  2. I’ve never seen this movie, Jack, although I figure it’s in my near future. One kid is almost old enough . . . heck, probably old enough now . . . to watch it, and she’s very interested in tornadoes to boot. I’m glad there seem to be some positive female characters in the movie, although it’s hard to out-do Laura Dern’s character in the first Jurassic Park. I know there’s this meme, for lack of a better word, about the ‘passionate scientist’ who sacrifices everything, illogically, for his/her (usually his) goals. The Mr. Spock in me would point out how unrealistic these scientists usually are, in movie depictions, but then, that’s movies. Different (escapist) medium.
    On another note, I hope you never run out of ‘subjects’ for your blog posts, Jack, because at least half the time, you cover something I’ve never seen or, if I have, I might not have really even thought deeply about apart from its entertainment value. Said another way, keep on going!

  3. I only saw the movie once. Twisters & funnel clouds are NOT my favourite subject ( s ) ! I lived through a tornado barrage that hit middle & west TN in 2008. Didn’t panic, but only because I didn’t look outside much.

    • Just south of us got hit a few years ago by a series of tornadoes. We were on our way home from the city at the time when we had to pull over under a bridge to avoid the debris flying across the highway. It was one of the craziest moments in our lives. It had turned pitch dark and it was just after noon. I will always respect nature for the power it can muster.

      • But it’s not due to any of that climate – change nonsense that the lame – stream media has pushed on us, no, sir ! ( Tongue in cheek ).
        Seriously, technology has come a LONG way, but we’re still basically at the mercy of the elements, just as much as our parents, their parents, & generations before them.

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