Billy Bob Thornton

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Billy Bob Thornton
Thornton in February 2012
William Robert Thornton

(1955-08-04) August 4, 1955 (age 63)
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S
OccupationActor, filmmaker, singer, songwriter, musician
Years active1986–present
  • Melissa Lee Gatlin
    (m. 1978;div. 1980)
  • Toni Lawrence
    (m. 1986;div. 1988)
  • Cynda Williams
    (m. 1990;div. 1992)
  • Pietra Dawn Cherniak
    (m. 1993;div. 1997)
  • Angelina Jolie
    (m. 2000;div. 2003)
  • Connie Angland
    (m. 2014)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • drums
Labels Vanguard
Associated acts The Boxmasters

Billy Bob Thornton (born August 4, 1955) is an American actor, comedian, filmmaker, singer, songwriter, and musician.


Thornton had his first break when he co-wrote and starred in the 1992 thriller One False Move , and received international attention after writing, directing, and starring in the independent drama film Sling Blade (1996), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He appeared in several major film roles in the 1990s following Sling Blade, including Oliver Stone's neo-noir U Turn (1997), political drama Primary Colors (1998), science fiction disaster film Armageddon (1998), the highest-grossing film of that year, and the crime drama A Simple Plan (1998), which earned him his third Oscar nomination.

<i>One False Move</i> 1992 film by Carl Franklin

One False Move is a 1992 American crime film directed by Carl Franklin and co-written by Billy Bob Thornton. The film stars Thornton alongside Bill Paxton and Cynda Williams. The low-budget production was about to be released straight to home video when it was finished, but became popular through word of mouth, convincing the distributor to give the film a theatrical release. Film critic Gene Siskel voted this film as his favorite of 1992.

An independent film, independent movie, indie film or indie movie, is a feature film or short film that is produced outside the major film studio system, in addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment companies. Independent films are sometimes distinguishable by their content and style and the way in which the filmmakers' personal artistic vision is realized. Usually, but not always, independent films are made with considerably lower budgets than major studio films.

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

In the 2000s, Thornton achieved further success in starring dramas Monster's Ball (2001), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), and Friday Night Lights (2004); comedies Bandits (2001), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), and Bad Santa (2003); and action films Eagle Eye (2008) and Faster (2010). In 2014, Thornton starred as Lorne Malvo in the first season of the anthology series Fargo , earning a nomination for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie at the Emmy Awards and won Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards. In 2016, he starred in an Amazon original series, Goliath, which earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama.

<i>Monsters Ball</i> 2001 film by Marc Forster

Monster's Ball is a 2001 American romantic drama film directed by Marc Forster, written by Milo Addica and Will Rokos as an original screenplay, and starring Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger, Peter Boyle, Sean Combs, and Mos Def. The film tells the story of a widowed corrections officer, his adult son, and widowed father, all of whom work as executioners in the state prison. The main character befriends, and then begins a relationship with, a woman who turns out to be the widow of a man he executed.

<i>The Man Who Wasnt There</i> (2001 film) 2001 film by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

The Man Who Wasn't There is a 2001 British-American neo-noir crime film written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Billy Bob Thornton stars in the title role. Also featured are Tony Shalhoub, Scarlett Johansson, James Gandolfini, and Coen regulars Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, Richard Jenkins and Jon Polito. Joel Coen won the Best Director Award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen's brother and co-director of the film, did not receive the Best Director Award as he was not credited as a director.

<i>Friday Night Lights</i> (film) 2004 film by Peter Berg

Friday Night Lights is a 2004 American sports drama film, directed by Peter Berg. The film follows the coach and players of a high school football team in the Texas city of Odessa, which supported and was obsessed with them. The book on which it was based, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream (1990) by H. G. Bissinger, followed the story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team as they made a run towards the state championship. A television series of the same name premiered on October 3, 2006 on NBC. The film won the Best Sports Movie ESPY Award and was ranked number 37 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the Best High School Movies.

Thornton has been vocal about his distaste for celebrity culture, choosing to keep his life out of the public eye. However, the attention of the media has proven unavoidable in certain cases, his marriage to Angelina Jolie being a notable example. [1] Thornton has written a variety of films, usually set in the Southern United States and mainly co-written with Tom Epperson, including A Family Thing (1996) and The Gift (2000). After Sling Blade, he directed several other films, including Daddy and Them (2001), All the Pretty Horses (2000), and Jayne Mansfield's Car (2012).

Celebrity culture is a high-volume perpetuation of celebrities' personal lives on a global scale. It is inherently tied to consumer interests where celebrities transform their fame to become product brands.

Angelina Jolie American actress, film director and screenwriter

Angelina Jolie is an American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian. The recipient of such accolades as an Academy Award and three Golden Globe Awards, she has been named Hollywood's highest-paid actress multiple times.

Southern United States Cultural region of the United States

The southern United States, also known as the American South, Dixie, Dixieland, or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwestern United States and northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.

Thornton has received the President's Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, a Special Achievement Award from the National Board of Review, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has also been nominated for an Emmy Award, four Golden Globes, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. In addition to film work, Thornton began a career as a singer-songwriter. He has released four solo albums and is the vocalist of the blues rock band The Boxmasters.

National Board of Review American film industry organization

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures is an organization in the United States dedicated to discussing and selecting what its members regard as the best film works of each year.

Hollywood Walk of Fame Entertainment hall of fame in Hollywood, Los Angeles

The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of musicians, actors, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others. The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust. It is a popular tourist destination, with a reported 10 million visitors in 2003. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce holds trademark rights to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is an American award that recognizes excellence in the television industry, and is the equivalent of an Academy Award, the Tony Award, and the Grammy Award.

Early life

Billy Bob Thornton [2] [3] [4] was born on August 4, 1955, [5] in Hot Springs, Arkansas, [2] [6] [7] the son of Virginia Roberta (née Faulkner; died July 29, 2017), a self-proclaimed psychic, and William Raymond "Billy Ray" Thornton (November 1929 – August 1974), a high school history teacher and basketball coach. [2] His brother, Jimmy Don (April 1958 – October 1988), wrote a number of songs, two of which ("Island Avenue" and "Emily") Thornton has recorded on his solo albums. [8] He is of part Irish descent. [9] He also has another brother John David Thornton.[ citation needed ]

Hot Springs, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Hot Springs is a city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Garland County. The city is located in the Ouachita Mountains among the U.S. Interior Highlands, and is set among several natural hot springs for which the city is named. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 35,193. In 2017 the estimated population was 36,915.

Thornton lived in numerous places in Arkansas during his childhood, including Alpine, Malvern, and Mount Holly. He was raised Methodist [10] in an extended family in a shack that had no electricity or plumbing. [11] He graduated from Malvern High School in 1973. [12] A good high school baseball player, he tried out for the Kansas City Royals, but was released after an injury. [13] After a short period laying asphalt for the Arkansas State Transportation Department, he attended Henderson State University to pursue studies in psychology, but dropped out after two semesters. [14]

Alpine is an unincorporated community in Clark County, Arkansas, United States, approximately eight miles east of Amity. The community center located in its heart is a popular draw for Clark County citizens during Christmas, 4th of July and Halloween celebrations annually.

Malvern, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Malvern is a city in and the county seat of Hot Spring County, Arkansas, United States. Founded as a railroad stop at the eastern edge of the Ouachita Mountains, the community's history and economy have been tied to available agricultural and mineral resources. The production of bricks from locally available clay has earned the city the nickname, "The Brick Capital of the World". The city had a population of 10,318 at the time of the 2010 census, and in 2015 the estimated population was 10,928.

Mount Holly, Arkansas Unincorporated community in Arkansas, United States

Mount Holly is an unincorporated community in Union County, Arkansas, United States. Mount Holly is located at the junction of Arkansas highways 57 and 160, 18 miles (29 km) west-northwest of El Dorado. Mount Holly has a post office with ZIP code 71758.

In the mid-1980s, Thornton settled in Los Angeles, California, to pursue his career as an actor, with future writing partner Tom Epperson. [2] He had a difficult time succeeding as an actor and worked in telemarketing, offshore wind farming, [13] and fast food management between auditioning for acting jobs. He also played the drums and sang with South African rock band Jack Hammer. While working as a waiter for an industry event, he served film director and screenwriter Billy Wilder. He struck up a conversation with Wilder, who advised Thornton to consider a career as a screenwriter. [2]


Acting and filmmaking

Thornton at the South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on March 11, 2008 BillyBobThorntonPointsSXSW2009 (cropped).jpg
Thornton at the South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, on March 11, 2008

Thornton's first screen role was in 1980's South of Reno , where he played a small role as a counter man in a restaurant. He also made an appearance as a pawn store clerk in the 1987 Matlock episode "The Photographer". Another one of his early screen roles was as a cast member on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire and in 1989 he appeared as a angry heckler in Adam Sandler's debut film Going Overboard . 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 1990s films Indecent Proposal , On Deadly Ground , Bound by Honor , and Tombstone . He went on to write, direct, and star in the 1996 independent film Sling Blade . [2] The film, an expansion of the short film Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade , introduced the story of a mentally handicapped man imprisoned for a gruesome and seemingly inexplicable murder.[ citation needed ]

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. [2] In 1998, Thornton portrayed the James Carville-like Richard Jemmons in Primary Colors . He adapted the book All the Pretty Horses into a 2000 film of the same name. The negative experience (he was forced to cut more than an hour of footage) 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 .[ citation needed ]

In 2000, Thornton appeared in Travis Tritt's music video for the song "Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde". His screen persona has been described by the press as that of a "tattooed, hirsute man's man". [15] He appeared in several major film roles following the success of Sling Blade, including 1998's Armageddon and A Simple Plan . In 2001, he directed Daddy and Them while securing starring roles in three Hollywood films: Monster's Ball , Bandits , and The Man Who Wasn't There , for which he received many awards.[ citation needed ]

Thornton played a malicious mall Santa in 2003's Bad Santa , a black comedy that performed well at the box office and established him as a leading comic actor, and in the same year, portrayed a womanizing President of the United States in the British romantic comedy film Love Actually . He stated that, following the success of Bad Santa, audiences "like to watch him play that kind of guy" and that "casting directors call him up when they need an asshole". [15] He referred to this when he said that "it's kinda that simple... you know how narrow the imagination in this business can be". [16]

In 2004, Thornton played David Crockett in The Alamo . Later that year, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 7. He appeared in the 2006 comic film School for Scoundrels . In the film, he plays a self-help doctor, which was written specifically for him. [15] More recent films include 2007 drama The Astronaut Farmer and the comedy Mr. Woodcock , in which he played a sadistic gym teacher. In September 2008, he starred in the action film Eagle Eye . He has also expressed an interest in directing another film, possibly a period piece about cave explorer Floyd Collins, [17] based on the book Trapped! The Story of Floyd Collins. [18]

In 2014, Thornton starred as sociopathic hitman Lorne Malvo in the FX miniseries Fargo , based on the 1996 film of the same name, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Mini-Series. [19]

On October 30, 2014, on The Big Bang Theory , he played a middle-aged urologist who gets excited about every woman who touches him. He showed the boys his collection of film memorabilia.

"Goliath", a television series by Amazon Studios, features Thornton as a formerly brilliant and personable lawyer - now washed out and alcoholic. It premiered on October 13, 2016, on Amazon Video. On February 15, 2017, Amazon announced the series had been renewed for a second season. [20]

In 2017, Thornton starred in the music video Stand Down [21] by Kario Salem (musically known as K.O.). It received the award Best Music Video in the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival [22] and has 13 million views on Facebook and counting.


From the time he was 10 years old, Thornton has been in bands. His first performance was on drums at a school PTA meeting where his band played "The Ballad of The Green Berets" instrumentally. Several bands followed, with Thornton's first recording experience coming at Widget Sound in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1974. Later in the 1970s, Thornton was the drummer 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. [23]

Thornton with The Boxmasters, 2007 BillyBobThornton.jpg
Thornton with The Boxmasters, 2007

In 1985, Thornton joined Piet Botha in the South African rock band Jack Hammer, while Botha worked in Los Angeles. Thornton recorded one studio album with Jack Hammer, Death of a Gypsy, which was released in 1986.

In 2001, Thornton released an album titled Private Radio on Lost Highway Records. The Edge of the World (2003), Hobo (2005) and Beautiful Door (2007). 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" with Earl Scruggs, for the Oxford American magazine's Southern Music CD in 2001. [24] The song also appeared on Scruggs' 2001 album Earl Scruggs and Friends. [25]

In 2007, Thornton formed The Boxmasters with J.D. Andrew.



Studio albums


Personal life

Relationships and children

Thornton with The Boxmasters, 2007 Billy Bob Thornton.jpg
Thornton with The Boxmasters, 2007

Thornton has been married six times, with the first five marriages 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. [26] 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. [27]

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 actually two small lockets, each containing only a single drop of blood. [15] [28] 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. [29] [30] They separated in June 2002 and divorced the following year. [31]

In 2003, Thornton began a relationship with makeup effects crew member Connie Angland, with whom he has a daughter named Bella. They reside in Los Angeles, California. Though he once said that he likely would not marry again, [32] saying that he believes marriage "doesn't work" for him, [33] his representatives confirmed that he and Angland were married on October 22, 2014, in Los Angeles. [34]

Health problems

During his early years in Los Angeles, Thornton was admitted to a hospital and diagnosed with myocarditis. [35] He has since said that he follows a vegan diet and is "extremely healthy", eating no junk food as he is allergic to wheat and dairy. [36]

Thornton suffers from OCD. [37] 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. [38] Additionally, he has stated that he has a fear of certain types of silverware, a trait assumed by his character in 2001's Monster's Ball, in which Grotowski insists on a plastic spoon for his daily bowl of ice cream. [38] [39]

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." [40]


Thornton is a baseball fan; his favorite team is the St. Louis Cardinals, and he has said that his childhood dream was to play for them. He narrated The 2006 World Series Film, the year-end retrospective DVD chronicling the Cardinals' championship season. He is also a professed fan of the Indianapolis Colts football team. [41]

See also

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