Billy Bob Thornton
|Billy Bob Thornton|
Thornton in February 2012
August 4, 1955 |
Hot Springs, Arkansas, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, screenwriter, director, musician|
|Spouse(s)||Melissa Lee Gatlin (m. 1978–80)
Toni Lawrence (m. 1986–88)
Cynda Williams (m. 1990–92)
Pietra Dawn Cherniak (m. 1993–97)
Angelina Jolie (m. 2000–03)
|Partner(s)||Connie Angland (2003–present)|
Billy Bob Thornton (born August 4, 1955) is an American actor, screenwriter, director and musician. Thornton gained early recognition as a cast member on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire and in several early 1990s films, including On Deadly Ground and Tombstone. In the mid-1990s, after writing, directing, and starring in the independent film Sling Blade, he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He appeared in several major film roles following Sling Blade's success, including 1998's Armageddon, A Simple Plan, and Bad Santa. During the late 1990s, Thornton began a career as a singer-songwriter. He has released four albums and was the singer in a blues rock band.
Thornton was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the son of Virginia Roberta (née Faulkner), a psychic, and William Raymond "Billy Ray" Thornton (November 1929–August 1974), a high school history teacher and basketball coach who died when Thornton was 18. Billy Bob was one of three brothers with Jimmy Don (April 1958–October 1988) who died of a heart attack at 30, and John David (born 1969), who resides in California. Jimmy Don Thornton wrote a number of songs, two of which—"Island Avenue" and "Emily"—Thornton has recorded on his solo albums. During his childhood, Thornton lived in both Alpine, Arkansas, and Malvern, Arkansas. He was raised a Methodist, in an extended family in a shack that had neither electricity nor plumbing. Thornton graduated from high school in 1973. A good high school baseball player, he tried out for the Kansas City Royals, but was let go after an injury. After a short period laying asphalt for the Arkansas State Transportation Department, he attended Henderson State University to pursue studies in psychology, but he dropped out after two semesters.
In the mid-1980s, Thornton settled in Los Angeles, to pursue his career as an actor, with future writing partner Tom Epperson. Thornton initially had a difficult time succeeding as an actor, and worked in telemarketing, offshore wind farming, and fast food management between auditioning for acting jobs. He also played drums and sang with South African rock band Jack Hammer. While Thornton worked as a waiter for an industry event, he served film director and screenwriter Billy Wilder, who is famous for films such as Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. Thornton struck up a conversation with Wilder, who advised Thornton to consider a career as a screenwriter.
Billy Bob's first screen role was in 1980s South of Reno, where he played a small role as a counter man in a restaurant. Billy Bob also made an appearance in a 1987 episode of Andy Griffith's popular show Matlock titled "The Photographer" as a pawn store clerk. Another one of Thornton's early screen roles was as a cast member on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire with John Ritter and Markie Post. His role as the villain in 1992's One False Move, which he also co-wrote, brought him to the attention of critics. He also had small roles in the early 1990s films Indecent Proposal, On Deadly Ground, Bound by Honor, Grey Knight, and Tombstone. Thornton put Wilder's advice to good use, and went on to write, direct and star in the independent film Sling Blade, which was released in 1996. The film, an expansion of a short film titled Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade, introduced the story of Karl Childers, a mentally handicapped man imprisoned for a gruesome and seemingly inexplicable murder. Sling Blade garnered international acclaim. Thornton's screenplay earned him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a Writers Guild of America Award, and an Edgar Award, while his performance received Oscar and Screen Actors Guild nominations for Best Actor.
In 1998, he portrayed the James-Carville-like Richard Jemmons in Primary Colors. Thornton adapted the book All the Pretty Horses into a 2000 film with the same name, starring Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz. The negative experience (he was forced to cut more than an hour) led to his decision to never direct another film (a subsequent release, Daddy and Them, had been filmed earlier). Also in 2000, an early script which he and Tom Epperson wrote together was made into The Gift which starred Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank, Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes, Greg Kinnear, and Giovanni Ribisi. In 2000, he also appeared in Travis Tritt's music video for the song "Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde".
Thornton's screen persona has been described by the press as that of a "tattooed, hirsute man's man". He appeared in several major film roles following Sling Blade 's success, including 1998's Armageddon with Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis, and A Simple Plan. In 2001, he directed Daddy and Them, while also securing starring roles in three Hollywood pictures, Monster's Ball, Bandits and The Man Who Wasn't There, for which he received many awards. He played a malicious mall Santa Claus in 2003's Bad Santa, a black comedy that performed well at the box office and established Thornton as a leading comic actor, and in the same year, portrayed a womanizing President of the United States in the British romantic comedy Love Actually. Thornton has stated that, following Bad Santa's success, audiences "like to watch [him] play that kind of guy," and "they [casting directors] call [him] up when they need an asshole. It's kinda that simple... you know how narrow the imagination in this business can be." In 2004 he played David Crockett in The Alamo.
He appeared in the comic film School for Scoundrels, which was released on September 29, 2006. In the film, he plays a self-help doctor; the role was written specifically for Thornton. More recent films include The Astronaut Farmer, a drama released on February 23, 2007, and the comedy, Mr. Woodcock, in which Thornton plays a sadistic gym teacher. In September 2008, Thornton starred in the big brother action movie Eagle Eye alongside Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan. He will next star in the drama Peace Like a River. Thornton has also expressed an interest in directing another film, possibly a period piece about cave explorer Floyd Collins, based on the book Trapped! The Story of Floyd Collins by Robert K. Murray and Roger Brucker. Thornton received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 7, 2004.
During the late 1990s, Thornton, who has had a life-long love for music, began a hobby as a singer-songwriter. He released a roots rock album titled Private Radio in 2001, and three more albums, The Edge of the World (2003), Hobo (2005) and Beautiful Door (2007). Thornton's manager, David Spero, helped his Edge of the World album get off the ground with a summer tour. Thornton was the singer of a blues rock band named Tres Hombres. Guitarist Billy Gibbons referred to the band as "The best little cover band in Texas", and Thornton bears a tattoo with the band's name on it. He performed the Warren Zevon song The Wind on the tribute album Enjoy Every Sandwich: Songs of Warren Zevon. Thornton recorded a cover of the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire" for the Oxford American magazine's Southern Music CD in 2001.
On April 8, 2009, Thornton and his musical group The Boxmasters appeared on CBC Radio One program Q which was widely criticized and received international attention after Thornton was persistently unintelligible and discourteous to host Jian Ghomeshi. Thornton eventually explained he had "instructed" the show's producers to not ask questions about his movie career. Ghomeshi had mentioned Thornton’s acting in the introduction. Thornton had also complained Canadian audiences were like “mashed potatoes without the gravy." The following night, opening for Willie Nelson at Toronto's Massey Hall, Thornton said mid-set he liked Canadians but not Ghomeshi, which was greeted with boos and catcalls of "Here Comes The Gravy!". The Boxmasters did not continue the tour in Canada as, according to Thornton, some of the crew and band had the flu.
Relationships and children
Thornton has been married five times, with each marriage ending in divorce, and he has four children by three women. From 1978 to 1980, he was married to Melissa Lee Gatlin, with whom he had a daughter, Amanda. Thornton married actress Toni Lawrence in 1986; they separated the following year and divorced in 1988. From 1990 to 1992, he was married to actress Cynda Williams, whom he cast in his writing debut, One False Move (1992). In 1993, Thornton married Playboy model Pietra Dawn Cherniak, with whom he had two sons, Harry James and William; the marriage ended in 1997, with Cherniak accusing Thornton of spousal abuse.
Thornton was engaged to be married to actress Laura Dern, whom he dated from 1997 to 1999, but in 2000, he married actress Angelina Jolie, with whom he starred in Pushing Tin (1999) and who is 20 years his junior. The marriage became known for the couple's eccentric displays of affection, which reportedly included wearing vials of each other's blood around their necks; Thornton later clarified that the "vials" were, instead, two small lockets, each containing only a single drop of blood. Thornton and Jolie announced the adoption of a child from Cambodia in March 2002, but it was later revealed that Jolie had adopted the child as a single parent. They separated in June 2002 and divorced the following year.
Since 2003, Thornton has been in a relationship with makeup effects crew member Connie Angland, with whom he has a daughter, Bella. The family resides in Los Angeles, California. Thornton has stated that he likely will not marry again, specifying that he believes marriage "doesn't work" for him.
According to movie legend, during his early years in Los Angeles, Thornton couldn't afford to eat properly and lived on a diet of potatoes. When his health began to suffer, he was admitted to a hospital and diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart condition brought on by malnutrition.
Thornton has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Various idiosyncratic behaviors have been well documented in interviews with Thornton; among these is a phobia of antique furniture—a disorder shared by Dwight Yoakam's character Doyle Hargraves in the Thornton-penned Sling Blade, and by Thornton's own character in the 2001 film Bandits. Additionally, he has stated that he has a fear of certain types of silverware, a trait assumed by his character Hank Grotowski in 2001's Monster's Ball, in which Grotowski insists on a plastic spoon for his daily bowl of chocolate ice cream. In a 2004 interview with The Independent, Thornton explained: "It's just that I won't use real silver. You know, like the big, old, heavy-ass forks and knives, I can't do that. It's the same thing as the antique furniture. I just don't like old stuff. I'm creeped out by it, and I have no explanation why...I don't have a phobia about American antiques, it's mostly French—you know, like the big, old, gold-carved chairs with the velvet cushions. The Louis XIV type. That's what creeps me out. I can spot the imitation antiques a mile off. They have a different vibe. Not as much dust."
A baseball fan, Thornton's favorite team is the St. Louis Cardinals. He has said that his childhood dream was to play for the Cardinals. He narrated The 2006 World Series Film, the year-end retrospective DVD chronicling the Cardinals' championship season. Thornton is also a professed fan of the Indianapolis Colts football team.
|One False Move||1992||Writer||Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay|
|Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade||1994||Writer|
|A Family Thing||1996||Writer||Humanitas Prize|
|Sling Blade||1996||Director/Writer||Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay
National Board of Review Award for Special Achievement in Filmmaking
Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated—Chlotrudis Award for Best Director
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Original Screenplay
|Don't Look Back||1996||Story and teleplay|
|All the Pretty Horses||2000||Director/Producer|
|Gift, TheThe Gift||2000||Writer||Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Writing|
|Camouflage||2001||Story and screenplay||as Reginald Perry|
|Daddy and Them||2001||Director/Writer|
|Jayne Mansfield's Car||2012||Director/Writer|
- The Boxmasters (Vanguard, 2008)
- Christmas Cheer (Vanguard, 2008)
- Modbilly (Vanguard, 2009)
- Keys to the Kingdom (TBA)
- Bellflower (TBA)
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- Marlow, Iain; Andrew Chung (April 10, 2009). "Billy Bob ends Canadian tour". The Star (Toronto).
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- Hinckley, David. Billy Bob Thornton accused of stalking former sister-in-law. New York Daily News. May 21, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
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- Stein, Ruthe. Billy Bob Thornton Likes Staying Put. "San Francisco Chronicle". April 26, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
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- The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts B.B. Thornton. 2012. Virgin Digital
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- "Billy Bob Thornton opens up". msnbc.com. April 2, 2004. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
- "Billy Bob's Fear Of Spoons". Cinema.com. Retrieved September 24, 2006.
- "Monster's Ball screenplay transcript". Script-o-rama.com. Retrieved May 30, 2008.
- Rose, Tiffany (September 3, 2004). "Interview with Billy Bob Thornton: Acting very strange". Independent.co.uk (London). Retrieved May 30, 2008.
- Walton, Brian (July 17, 2005). "Exclusive Interview – Billy Bob Thornton – Part One". www.thestlcardinals.com. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
- Terry Funk: The Hardcore Legend. T Funk. 2005. Sports Pub
- Pringle, G (September 23, 2007). "On the move: Billy Bob Thornton". Driving (London: The Sunday Times). Retrieved September 25, 2007.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Billy Bob Thornton.|
- Billy Bob Thornton at the Internet Movie Database
- Official site of Billy Bob Thornton
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- Billy Bob Thornton interview
- "Set For Launch: A Video Interview with the Makers of 'The Astronaut Farmer'" — eFilmCritic.com video interviews with Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen and the Polish Brothers
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- [chriscomerradio.com/bb_thornton/thornton9-27-05.htm] Billy Bob Thornton Radio Interview