Billy Bob Thornton

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Real Name: Billy Bob Thornton
Birthday:  08/04/1955
Place of Birth: Alpine, Arkansas
Education: Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, psychology

Blog Flash: Billy Bob Thornton's Son Involved In Sex Crime Investigation.. <More>



Billy Bob Thornton became a Hollywood star with "Sling Blade" (1996), where he did triple duty as star, screenwriter and director. The project had its start in a script the actor created on the set of his first television movie, "The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains" (1987) to channel his rage. He fashioned Karl Childers, a mentally challenged murderer, and refined the character for close to 10 years, first performing the acts on stage and then in the 1994 short film "Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade", directed by George Hickenlooper. By the time he stretched the story to movie length, the actor had made a agreement to direct as well as write and star. The effect was a relaxed Southern Gothic story that gained critical acclaim.

Born and raised in a poor family, the Arkansas resident hooked up with future writing collaborator Tom Epperson when both were children. Thornton began acting while in high school ultimately deciding to chase a full time performing profession. He and Epperson temporarily landed in NYC before heading west to Hollywood. Settling in L.A. in the late 1970s, he worked off and on as a rock singer, drummer and actor. He and Epperson wrote scripts which they tried to sell, although they met with little success at the start. 

After almost ten years in California, the actor made his feature debut in the unremarkable direct to video release of "Hunter's Blood" (1988). After a small role as a soldier in the Bette Midler vehicle "For the Boys" (1991), he won praise for his featured role in Carl Franklin's "One False Move" (1992), which he co-wrote with Epperson. His interpretation of a ex-con involved with a black woman (Cynda Williams, who was also his third wife) earned him top praise. Other feature appearances included roles in Taylor Hackford's "Bound By Honor" (1993), Steven Seagal's "On Deadly Ground" (1994) and Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man" (1995) with Johnny Depp.

Epperson and Billy Bob second script, "A Family Thing" (1996) gained attention for its storyline -: a white man discovers he has a black half-brother. Actor Robert Duvall brought the idea to the duo and they created a movie for the award winning actor. The film attracted the attention of James Earl Jones, who played Duvall's half-brother and offered a role for Irma P Hall as the men's old aunt. While the film won media' approval, it set no box office records. However, Thornton's clout in Hollywood was on the rise and later that year, he made his solo screenwriting and directorial debut with "Sling Blade". 

Appearing onscreen clean shaven and using unhurried, raspy vocals accented with growls, the actor was hardly recognizable as Karl. Although the film switched between stationary set pieces and fast moving scenes, it did feature a strong cast including Lucas Black as a boy who befriends Karl, Natalie Canerday as his mother, John Ritter as a gay man for whom the boy's mother works and in particular, Dwight Yoakam as the mother's narrow-minded, obnoxious boyfriend. The actor won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and earned another nomination as Best Actor.

His movie career, which had steadily been gaining steam, exploded with the success of "Sling Blade". He signed a three picture deal with Miramax and was instantly one of the most wanted actors in Hollywood; Thornton was nearly unrecognizable as a psychotic mechanic in Oliver Stone's "U-Turn" before playing a unenthusiastic religious convert in Duvall's "The Apostle", among his 1997 roles. 

The following year found him as a would-be marijuana kingpin in "Homegrown", a wily opinionated advisor (patterned after real-life spin doctor James Carville) in "Primary Colors" with John Travolta, and the Mission Control leader in the summer blockbuster "Armageddon" with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck, in addition to playing Bill Paxton's brother in "A Simple Plan". 

On television, he appeared in the pilot "Circus" (1987) before making his series debut as a man who was a replacement brother to a gang in "The Outsiders" (1989). He later did well portraying good old boys on such sitcoms as "Evening Shade" (1990-93) and the show "Hearts Afire" (1992-95), both executive produced by friend and fellow Arkansan Harry Thomason. With Epperson, he wrote the HBO movie "Don't Look Back" (1996), directed by Geoff Murphy and starring Eric Stoltz as a musician and drug addict who stumbles onto drug money with near lethal results.

His most critically applauded role since "Sling Blade" (1996) came when he starred opposite Halle Barry in "Monster's Ball" with Heath Ledger (2001). He played a toughened jail warden whose life is submersed in his own harsh history and deep-seated racism. His character changes and ends up falling in love with the black woman whose husband he executed. His superb portrayal of a suffering man trying to hold onto love for the first time in years earned him a remarkable range of critical praise and awards nominations. However, Thornton may have been his own worst adversary when it came to contending for Oscar gold, as Thornton also turned in mostly fine performances in two other films that same year with a comedic turn in Barry Levinson's "Bandits" (2001) with Bruce Willis, and razor-sharp, memorable role as the barber drawn into a dark story in the Coen Brothers' silly flick "The Man Who Wasn't There" with Scarlett Johansson. Oscar-watchers suggested that he split his own vote among the three roles, resulting in no nominations for the actor.

His consistent acting was also often overshadowed by his high profile relationship with the much younger actress Angelina Jolie, who became his fifth wife in 2000 after the two met on the 1999 film "Pushing Tin" with Cate Blanchett. Their bombshell union was met by dramatic, fanatical affectation including tattoos of each other's names and wearing vials of each other's blood when not together. The marriage lasted only two years: Jolie filed for divorce in 2002, soon after adopting a Cambodian orphan who took his last name. 

On screen in 2002, the actor appeared in a pair of low budget flops, as a philanderer in the wacky comedy "Waking Up in Reno" which also starred Charlize Theron, Patrick Swayze and Natasha Richardson; and as a parolee who becomes involved with the unknowing wife of the man he killed in "Levity" (2002) with Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter and Kirsten Dunst. But the actor was in good form when he joined with the Coen Brothers' oddball effort "Intolerable Cruelty" with George Clooney (2003), playing a Texas billionaire who's about to become the latest casualty of a gold digging divorcee (Catherine Zeta-Jones); and the actor had a enjoyable low key cameo as a sexual U.S. president in the clever British romantic comedy "Love, Actually" (2003).

He returned to center stage in top form in director Terry Zwigoff's sarcastic holiday comedy "Bad Santa" (2003), based on a one line concept by the Coens, as booze slugging, womanizing safecracker Willie T. Stokes who once a year arises from a foggy slumber to team up with mastermind Marcus (Tony Cox) and, under the compassionate cover of Santa and Elf, clean out the particular department store in which they happen to be employed. His performance was a comedic masterpiece, especially when he cuts loose with his harsh, irreverent and cynical tirades.

Billy Bob followed up with a role as a high school football coach in the sports fixated small town of Odessa, Texas, in the hit film "Friday Night Lights" (2004), and then took on a less serious sports themed project when he accepted the role of Little League baseball coach Morris Buttermaker (originally played by Walter Matthau) in the 2005 remake of the classic kids' baseball film "The Bad News Bears." A high school baseball phenomenon who once earned a Major League tryout in his teenage years, The actor was a good fit for the role of the drunk, down on his luck Buttermaker watching over a disrespectful team of young hoodlums, but the film suffered in its loyalty to the original with a dull storyline that failed to update the story for the current generation. 

He took on his second anti Christmas inspired film with "The Ice Harvest" (2005), director Harold Ramis' film with blue comic undertones, playing the possibly dishonest partner in crime of a mob accountant (John Cusack) who robs a bundle from his boss and puts up with a terrifying Christmas Eve as they arrange to take flight.

For his next feature, Thornton played the role of a lifestyle coach for losers in “School for Scoundrels” with Ben Stiller (2006), a laid-back and rather conventional comedy about a top secret confidence building class run by a con man whose harsh love tactics, and tendency for interfering in his student’s lives, leads them to triumph over their deep seated anxiety to exact retribution. 

The celebrities schedule next included “The Astronaut Farmer”, a sarcastic look at an astronaut required to leave NASA to save his family’s farm and “Mr. Woodcock” (2007), showing him as a cruel gym teacher who terrorizes a best selling self help author (Seann William Scott) in his formative years, and is now ready to marry the writer’s widowed mother (Susan Sarandon).

The year 2008 had Billy Bob starting with the action thriller "Eagle Eye" (2008) starring Shia Labeouf, about a young slacker and a single mom who get tangled up in a terrorist cell plotting a political assassination. Next was the crime drama "The Informers" (2008) with Kim Basinger, a drama based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel set in 1983 Los Angeles, where movie executives, rock stars, a vampire, and other morally challenged character mix and commingle. He followed with the thriller "Duplicity" (2009) starring Julia Roberts, about a pair of corporate spies who share a steamy past and hook up to pull off the ultimate con job on their respective bosses.

He then starred with Halle Berry in the crime drama "Tulia" (2008), about a small town in Tulia, Texas, where an attorney works on behalf of a group of local black men who are wrongly convicted of their involvement in a drug ring. Finally is "Peace Like A River" (2009). Set in a small, rural Minnesota community in the early 1960's, an asthmatic 11-year-old Reuben Land observes exceptional events taking place in his family while under the care of his nurturing and otherworldly father.

He wrapped his year in the dramatic crime thriller  "The Informers" (2009), a film set in early 1980's Los Angeles, centered on characters who represent both the top and the bottom of the social scale. Connecting the intertwining strands are a group of beautiful, blonde young men and women who sleep all day and party all night, doing drugs -- and one another --with abandon, never realizing that they are dancing on the edge of a volcano


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