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Billy Bob Thornton

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Billy Bob Thornton
Thornton in 2017
Born (1955-08-04) August 4, 1955 (age 68)
Occupation(s)Actor, screenwriter, director, musician
Years active1986–present
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Melissa Lee Gatlin (m. 1978–1980)

Toni Lawrence (m. 1986–1988)

Cynda Williams (m. 1990–1992)

Pietra Dawn Cherniak (m. 1993–1997)

Angelina Jolie (m. 2000–2003)
PartnerConnie Angland (2003–present)

Billy Bob Thornton[1][2][3] (born August 4, 1955) is an American actor, screenwriter, director, singer and musician. Thornton first became known for his acting on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire and in a number of early 1990s movies. These movies included On Deadly Ground and Tombstone. In the mid-1990s, after writing, directing, and starring in the independent movie Sling Blade, he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He had many large movie roles after Sling Blade 's success. These included 1998's Armageddon and A Simple Plan. During the late 1990s, Thornton began a career as a singer-songwriter. He has released three albums. Thorton was the singer in a blues rock band.

Early life[change | change source]

Thornton was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas.[1] He is the son of Virginia Roberta (née Faulkner), a psychic, and William Raymond "Billy Ray" Thornton, a high school history teacher and basketball coach. His father died when Thornton was 18.[1] He has two younger brothers, Jimmy Don and John David. During his childhood, Thornton lived in both Alpine, Arkansas, and Malvern, Arkansas. He was raised a Methodist.[4] Thorton grew up in a large family in a shack. It did not have electricity nor plumbing. Thornton graduated from high school in 1973.[5] He was good high school baseball player. He tried out for the Kansas City Royals, but was let go after an injury.[6]

In the mid 1980s, Thornton moved to Los Angeles to become an actor.[1] At first, Thornton had a hard time becoming an actor. He worked in telemarketing, offshore wind farming,[6] and fast food management while trying to get acting jobs. He also played drums and sang with South African rock band Jack Hammer. While Thornton worked as a waiter for an event, he served movie director and screenwriter Billy Wilder. Wilder is known for movies that include Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. Thornton talked with Wilder, who told Thornton to think about a career as a screenwriter.[1]

Career[change | change source]

Film[change | change source]

Billy Bob's first role was in 1980s South of Reno. He played a small role as a man in a restaurant. Billy Bob was also in a 1987 episode of Andy Griffith's series Matlock. Another one of Thornton's early roles was on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire with John Ritter and Markie Post. His role as the villain in the 1992 movie One False Move got him noticed by the critics.[1] He also had small roles in the early 1990s movies Indecent Proposal, On Deadly Ground, Bound by Honor, Grey Knight, and Tombstone. Thornton did what Wilder told him to do. He wrote, direct and star in the independent movie Sling Blade. The movie was released in 1996.[1] The movie was an expansion of a short named Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade. It told the story of Karl Childers, a mentally handicapped man imprisoned for murder. Sling Blade was well liked internationally.[1] Thornton's screenplay earned him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a Writers Guild of America Award, and an Edgar Award. His acting in the movie earned him an Oscar and Screen Actors Guild nominations for Best Actor.[1]

In 1998, he played the James-Carville-like Richard Jemmons in Primary Colors. Thornton wrote the movie version of the book All the Pretty Horses as a 2000 movie with the same name. The movie starred Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz. After he was forced to cut more than an hour of the movie, he decided to never direct another movie. Also in 2000, an early script he had written was made into The Gift. It 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".

The press usually describe Thorton as a "tattooed, hirsute man's man".[7] He had many large movie roles after Sling Blade 's success. These include 1998's Armageddon with Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis, A Simple Plan, Monster's Ball, Bandits and The Man Who Wasn't There. He played a mall Santa Claus in 2003's Bad Santa. It was a black comedy that did very good at the box office. The movie made Thornton notable as a leading comic actor. Thornton has said that, after Bad Santa's success, audiences "like to watch [him] play that kind of guy,"[7] 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."[8] In 2004 he played Davy Crockett in The Alamo.

He was in the comic movie School for Scoundrels in 2006. More recent movies include The Astronaut Farmer and the comedy, Mr. Woodcock. In September 2008, Thornton starred in the action movie Eagle Eye with Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan. Thornton has also said he may want to direct another movie. He may direct a period piece about cave explorer Floyd Collins.[9] The movie would be based on the book Trapped! The Story of Floyd Collins by Robert K. Murray and Roger Brucker. Thornton got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 7, 2004.

Personal life[change | change source]

Thornton at a San Francisco concert in 2007

Relationships and children[change | change source]

Thornton has been married five times. Each marriage ended in divorce. He has four children by three women. From 1978 to 1980, he was married to Melissa Lee Gatlin. They have a daughter, Amanda.[10] Thornton married actress Toni Lawrence in 1986. They divorced in 1988. From 1990 to 1992, he was married to actress Cynda Williams. In 1993, Thornton married Playboy model Pietra Dawn Cherniak. They have two sons, Harry James and William. The marriage ended in 1997. Cherniak said Thornton abused her.[11]

Thornton was engaged to be married to actress Laura Dern, whom he dated from 1997 to 1999. Instead of marrying Dern, in 2000, he married actress Angelina Jolie. The marriage became known for the couple's strange shows of affection. These were said to include wearing vials of each other's blood around their necks. Thorton later said that the "vials" were actually two small lockets. Each had only a single drop of blood in it.[7][12] Thornton and Jolie said they were adopting a child from Cambodia in March 2002. Later it was learned that Jolie had adopted the child as a single parent.[13][14] They separated in June 2002 and divorced the following year.

Since 2003, Thornton has been in a relationship with Connie Angland. They have a daughter, Bella. The family lives in Los Angeles, California. Thornton has said that he likely will not marry again.[15] He has said that he thinks that marriage "doesn't work" for him.[16]

Thornton is the cousin of professional wrestling legends Terry Funk and Dory Funk, Jr.[17]

Film[change | change source]

Year Title Role Notes
1986 Hunter's Blood Billy Bob
1988 South of Reno Counterman
1989 Going Overboard Dave
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown Donny
1991 The Dark Backward Patron At Sloppy's Uncredited
For the Boys Marine Sergeant In Korea
Widespread Panic: Live from the Georgia Theatre Short film
Director only
1992 One False Move Ray Malcolm Also writer
1993 Tombstone Johnny Tyler
Blood In Blood Out 'Lightning'
Indecent Proposal Day Tripper
Ghost Brigade Langston
Trouble Bound 'Coldface'
1994 On Deadly Ground Homer Carlton
Floundering Gun Clerk
Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade Karl Childers Short film
Also writer
1995 Dead Man George 'Big George' Drakoulious
The Stars Fell on Henrietta Roy
1996 Sling Blade Karl Childers Also writer/director
The Winner Jack
A Family Thing Writer only
1997 The Apostle Troublemaker
U Turn Darrell
Princess Mononoke Jigo Voice only (English language dub)
Burn Hollywood Burn Himself Cameo
1998 A Simple Plan Jacob Mitchell
Armageddon Dan Truman
Homegrown Jack Marsden
Primary Colors Richard Jemmons
1999 Pushing Tin Russell Bell
2000 The Gift Writer only
The Last Real Cowboys Tar Short films
Also writer
All the Pretty Horses Producer/director only
2001 South of Heaven, West of Hell Brigadier General Smalls
Daddy and Them Claude Montgomery Also writer/director
Monster's Ball Hank Grotowski
Bandits Terry Lee Collins
The Man Who Wasn't There Ed Crane
Camouflage Writer only (credited as Reginald Perry)
2002 Waking Up in Reno Lonnie Earl Dodd
The Badge Sheriff Darl Hardwick
2003 Bad Santa Willie Soke
Love Actually President of the U.S.
Intolerable Cruelty Howard D. Doyle
Levity Manuel Jordan
2004 Friday Night Lights Coach Gary Gaines
The Alamo Davy Crockett
Chrystal Joe
2005 The Ice Harvest Vic Cavanaugh
Bad News Bears Coach Morris Buttermaker
2006 School for Scoundrels Dr. P. / Dennis Sherman
2007 The Astronaut Farmer Charles Farmer
Mr. Woodcock Jasper Woodcock
2008 Eagle Eye FBI Agent Thomas Morgan
The Informers William
2009 My Run Narrator Voice only
The Smell of Success Patrick
2010 Faster Detective Slade Humphries / Cop
2011 The King of Luck Documentary
Director only
Nashville Rises Narrator Voice only
Puss in Boots Jack Voice only
2013 Jayne Mansfield's Car Skip Caldwell Also writer/director
The Baytown Outlaws Carlos
Parkland Forrest Sorrels
2014 Cut Bank Stan Steeley
The Judge Dwight Dickham
2015 Into the Grizzly Maze Douglas
Entourage Larsen McCredle
Our Brand Is Crisis Pat Candy
2016 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot General Hollanek
Bad Santa 2 Willie Soke
2018 London Fields Samson Young
A Million Little Pieces Leonard
2022 The Gray Man Donald Fitzroy
2023 Devil's Peak Charlie Post-production
2024 The Electric State TBA Post-production

Television[change | change source]

Other screen credits
Title Year Role Notes
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
The 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

Video games[change | change source]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2009 Deadly Creatures Wade

Discography[change | change source]

Solo[change | change source]

The Boxmasters[change | change source]

  • The Boxmasters (Vanguard, 2008)
  • Christmas Cheer (Vanguard, 2008)
  • Modbilly (Vanguard, 2009)
  • Keys To The Kingdom (TBA)
  • Bellflower (TBA)

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "Billy Bob Thornton". Inside the Actors Studio. Season 8. Episode 18. August 18, 2002.
  2. Vigoda, Arlene (February 7, 1997). "Thornton makes a mark with 'Sling Blade'". USA Today. p. 1D LIFE.
  3. Betsy Model (January 2004). "Rock-a-Billy Bob". Orange Coast Magazine. Vol. 30, no. 1. p. 54.
  4. "Billy Bob Thornton, Astronaut Farmer". BeliefNet.com.
  5. "Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture". Encyclopediaofarkansas.net. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Pringle, Gill (September 23, 2007). "On the Move: Billy Bob Thornton". The Times. London. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Billy Bob Hollywood's go-to guy". JAM! Showbiz. Retrieved September 24, 2006.
  8. "School is in session". Daily News. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved September 24, 2006.
  9. "Interview with "School for Scoundrels" Star Billy Bob Thornton". About.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  10. Castro, Peter (April 28, 1997). "Sling This: Mrs. Billy Bob Thornton Angrily Seeks a Divorce". People. 47 (16). Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  11. Hinckley, David. Billy Bob Thornton accused of stalking former sister-in-law. New York Daily News. May 21, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
  12. "What I've Learned: Billy Bob Thornton". Archived from the original on March 29, 2007. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  13. Smolowee, Jill. Marriage, Interrupted. People. August 5, 2002. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  14. Stein, Ruthe. Billy Bob Thornton Likes Staying Put. "San Francisco Chronicle". April 26, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  15. "Thornton swears off marriage". ShowbizSpy. July 21, 2008. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  16. The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts B.B. Thornton. 2012. Virgin Digital
  17. Terry Funk: The Hardcore Legend. T Funk. 2005. Sports Pub

Further reading[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]