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Billy Bob Thornton (born August 4, 1955) is an American actor, director, musician, playwright and screenwriter. His rise to fame began in the mid-1990s, after writing, directing, and starring in the film Sling Blade, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Writing .

Early life

Thornton was born in Hot Springs, Arkansasmarker, the son of Virginia Roberta (née Faulkner), an alleged psychic, and William Raymond (Billy Ray) Thornton (November 1929 - August 1974), a high-school history teacher and basketball coach. He is the oldest of three brothers, the others are Jimmy Don Thornton (April 1958 - October 1988) and John David Thornton (born 1969). Thornton lived in both Alpine, Arkansas and Malvern, Arkansasmarker during his childhood, and also spent time with his grandfather, Otis Thornton, a forest ranger, in a small shack in the woods. He was raised a Methodist, in an extended family in a shack that had neither electricity nor plumbing. Thornton graduated 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 Departmentmarker, he attended Henderson State Universitymarker, in Arkadelphia, Arkansasmarker, to pursue studies in psychology, but dropped out after two semesters.

In the late 1980s, Thornton settled in Los Angelesmarker, 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 Billy Wilder and struck up a conversation with Wilder, who advised Thornton to consider a career as a screenwriter, for which he eventually won an Oscar in the category of best screenplay.

Career

Thornton first came to semi-prominence 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 and Giovanni Ribisi.

During the late 1990s, Thornton, who has had a life-long love for music, began a career as a singer-songwriter. He released a roots rock album titled Private Radio in 2001, and two more albums, The Edge of the World (2003) and Hobo (2005). 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 Texasmarker", 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.

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 and A Simple Plan. In 2001 he had 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. 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 Davy 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 along side 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 Famemarker on October 7, 2004.

CBC interview and Canadian tour

On April 8, 2009 Thornton and his musical group The Boxmasters were interviewed on a CBC Radio One program Q, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi in which Thornton's responses were either incomprehensible or discourteous. Eventually, Thornton explained he had "instructed" the show's producers to not ask questions about his career as screenwriter and actor. Ghomeshi had mentioned Thornton’s acting credentials in the introduction. Thornton also complained that Canadian audiences were like “mashed potatoes without the gravy". The widely criticized interview received international attention in the media and on YouTube. The following night, opening for Willie Nelson at Toronto's Massey Hallmarker, Thornton stated mid-set he liked Canadians but not the CBC radio host resulting in boos and catcalls. On April 10 Thornton announced The Boxmasters would not be playing with Nelson during concerts scheduled in Canada due to members of the crew and band having the flu.

Personal life

Thornton has frequently disclosed that he has obsessive–compulsive disorder. He and rock singer Warren Zevon became close friends after sharing their common experiences with the disorder. Various idiosyncratic behaviors have been well-documented in interviews with the actor; among these is a phobia of antique furniture — a disorder shared by the Dwight Yoakam character 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." In addition to his aversion to silver cutlery, velvet, and "creepy, castle-y stuff," Thornton confesses that "pieces from 1700 and 1800 France and England really freak me out, especially harpsichords."

Thornton lives in Los Angelesmarker. He has been married five times, most notably to actress Angelina Jolie. Each of Thornton's marriages ended in divorce. The pair were known for their eccentric behavior, which reportedly included wearing vials of each others' 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 adopted a child from Cambodiamarker whom they named Maddox. Jolie's divorce petition defined the child as both her and Thornton's, and requested the Court grant her custody and Thornton reasonable visitation.

Thornton is the father of four children. His first marriage, to Melissa Gatlin, produced Amanda Spence Brumfield on June 30, 1979; his fourth wife, Pietra Cherniak, bore William Langston on June 27, 1993 and Harry James on June 19, 1994; and Thornton and his current girlfriend Connie Angland bore Bella on September 22, 2004. Thornton has stated that he will likely not marry again, specifying that he believes marriage "doesn't work" for him.

He has two younger brothers, Jimmy Don, (who died abruptly of a heart attack in 1988), and John David, who resides in Arkansas. Jimmy Don Thornton wrote a number of songs, two of which--"Island Avenue" and "Emily"--Thornton has recorded on his solo albums.

A baseball fan, his favorite team is the St. Louis Cardinals. He has said his childhood dream was to play for the Cardinals.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1986 Hunter's Blood Billy Bob
1988 South of Reno Counterman
1989 Going Overboard Dave
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown Tommy
1991 The Dark Backward Patron at Sloppy's (uncredited)
For the Boys Marine Sergeant, Korea
1992 One False Move Ray Malcolm
1993 Tombstone Johnny Tyler
Bound by Honor Lightning
Indecent Proposal Day Tripper
The Killing Box Langston
Trouble Bound Coldface
1994 On Deadly Ground Homer Carlton
Floundering Gun Clerk
Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade Karl Childers Short film
1995 Dead Man Big George Drakoulious
The Stars Fell on Henrietta Roy
1996 Sling Blade Karl Childers Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Chlotrudis Award for Best Actor
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture





Don't Look Back Marshall
The Winner Jack
1997 The Apostle Troublemaker
U Turn Darrell
Princess Mononoke Jigo Voice Only (English Language Version)
1998 A Simple Plan Jacob Mitchell Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role










Armageddon Dan Truman, NASA Administrator
Homegrown Jack Marsden
The Thin Red Line Narrator (Edited)
Primary Colors Richard Jemmons
1999 Pushing Tin Russell Bell
2000 The Last Real Cowboys Tar
South of Heaven, West of Hell Brig. Smalls
2001 Daddy and Them Claude Montgomery
Monster's Ball Hank Grotowski Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor also for Bandits and The Man Who Wasn't There
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor also for Bandits and The Man Who Wasn't There
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

Bandits Terry Lee Collins Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor also for Monster's Ball and The Man Who Wasn't There
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor also for Monster's Ball and The Man Who Wasn't There
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor


The Man Who Wasn't There Ed Crane Chlotrudis Audience Award for Best Actor
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor also for Bandits and Monster's Ball
London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor also for Bandits and Monster's Ball
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Russian Guild of Film Critics Award for Best Foreign Actor
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — American Film Institute Award AFI Actor of the Year
Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor









2002 Waking Up in Reno Lonnie Earl Dodd
The Badge Sheriff Darl Hardwick
2003 Bad Santa Willie Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Love Actually The US President
Intolerable Cruelty Howard D. Doyle
Levity Manuel Jordan
2004 Friday Night Lights Coach Gary Gaines
The Alamo David Crockett
Chrystal Joe
2005 The Ice Harvest Vic Cavanaugh
Bad News Bears Morris Buttermaker
2006 School for Scoundrels Dr. P/Dennis Sherman
2007 The Astronaut Farmer Charles Farmer
Mr. Woodcock Jasper Woodcock
2008 Eagle Eye Morgan
2009 The Informers William
Peace Like a River (in production)
2010 Zero Theorem Qohen Leth (pre-production)


Other screen credits

Year Film Role Notes
1992 One False Move Writer Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay
1994 Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade Writer
1996 A Family Thing Writer Humanitas Prize
Sling Blade Director/Writer Academy Award for Best Writing
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 Story and teleplay
2000 All the Pretty Horses Director/Producer
The Gift Writer Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Writing
2001 Camouflage Story and screenplay as Reginald Perry
Daddy and Them Director/Writer


Discography

For albums and songs recorded by Thornton's band, see The Boxmasters#Discography.



References

Further reading



External links




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