mentally handicapped

Billy Bob Thornton

William Robert Thornton (born August 4, 1955) is an American screenwriter, actor and occasional director, playwright, and singer. His rise to fame began in the mid-1990s, after writing, directing, and starring in the film Sling Blade, for which he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay; he has since established a successful career as a film actor in Hollywood. Thornton has been described in media reports as "Hollywood's go-to alpha male".

Biography

Early life

Thornton was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the son of Virginia Roberta (née Faulkner), an alleged psychic, and William Raymond (Billy Ray) Thornton, a high-school history teacher and basketball coach. Thornton has three younger brothers: James Donald (Jimmy Don), born in 1958 and now deceased, James (Jim) Bean, and John David, born in 1969. Thornton lived in both Alpine, Arkansas and Malvern, Arkansas during his childhood, and also spent time with his grandfather, Otis Thornton, a forest ranger, in a small shack in the woods. Thornton is the cousin of noted professional wrestlers Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk.

Thornton was raised a Methodist. 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, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, to pursue studies in psychology, but dropped out after two semesters.

In the late 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 Billy Wilder and struck up a conversation with Wilder, who advised Thornton to consider a career as a screenwriter.

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 cowrote, 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 entitled 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 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.

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, 2001's Monster's Ball and 2004's The Alamo, in which he played Davy Crockett. 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." 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. His most recent film roles were The Astronaut Farmer, a drama released on February 23, 2007, and the comedy, Mr. Woodcock, in which Thornton plays a sadistic gym teacher. 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.

On August 11 2008, it was reported on the JoBlo.com website that Thornton is rumored to be portraying Freddy Krueger in the up and coming A Nightmare on Elm Street remake. This claim has yet to be verified by New Line Cinema.

Personal life

Thornton has repeatedly stated 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 flatware, 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 Angeles. He has been married five times, most notably to actress Angelina Jolie. 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 Cambodia 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 parenting-time.

Thornton is the biological father of four children: (with his first wife, Melissa Gatlin) Amanda Spence, born June 30, 1979, (with his fourth wife, Pietra Cherniak) William Langston, born June 27, 1993, and Harry James, born June 19, 1994, and (with current girlfriend, Connie Angland) Bella, born September 22, 2004. Thornton has also stated that he will likely not marry again; he has specified that he believes marriage "doesn't work" for him.

Filmography

Year Film Role
1989 South of Reno Counterman
Going Overboard Dave
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown Tommy
1992 One False Move Ray Malcolm
1993 Tombstone Johnny Tyler
Bound by Honor Lightning
Indecent Proposal Day Tripper
1994 On Deadly Ground Homer Carlton
1995 Dead Man Big George Drakoulious
1996 Sling Blade Karl Childers
Don't Look Back Marshall
1997 The Apostle Troublemaker
U Turn Darrell
Princess Mononoke Jigo
1998 A Simple Plan Jacob Mitchell
Armageddon Dan Truman, NASA Administrator
Homegrown Jack Marsden
The Thin Red Line Narrator(Edited)
Primary Colors Richard Jemmons
1999 Pushing Tin Russell Bell
2001 Monster's Ball Hank Grotowski
Bandits Terry Lee Collins
The Man Who Wasn't There Ed Crane
2002 Waking Up in Reno Lonnie Earl Dodd
The Badge Sheriff Darl Hardwick
2003 Bad Santa Willie
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 Mr. Woodcock
2008 Eagle Eye Morgan
The Informers William

Discography

References

Further reading

External links

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