Billy Bob Thornton biography
Born in 1955 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Billy Bob Thornton moved to Los Angeles, determined to make his living as an actor. In 1996 his career took off when he wrote, starred in, and directed Sling Blade, which was awarded an Oscar for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. He later directed All the Pretty Horses and has acted in numerous films.
Billy Bob Thornton was born on August 4, 1955, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Brought up in suburban Arkansas, he moved to Los Angeles, California, determined to make his living as an actor. Initially surviving working odd jobs and writing scripts, Thornton made his film debut in the wilderness thriller Hunter's Blood (1987). That same year, he was cast in the television movie The Man Who Broke a 1,000 Chains alongside Sonia Braga, Val Kilmer and Kyra Sedgwick.
On the movie's production set, Thornton first began developing the character of Karl Childers, a hulking, slow-witted, but well-intentioned man in the tradition of John Steinbeck's Lennie from the classic Of Mice and Men. He played Karl Childers on stage in the form of a dramatic monologue, and in 1993, he used the character in a short film entitled Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade, directed by George Hickenlooper.
Meanwhile, Thornton honed his screenwriting abilities, co-writing and appearing in 1991's One False Move, a crime thriller. In 1996, after appearing in small roles in a number of successful films, he agreed to direct, write, and star in a feature-length version of Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade. The subsequent film, Sling Blade, was an independent hit and Thornton garnered an Academy Award for best screenplay based on material from another medium.
His acting performance in the film was nearly as acclaimed as the screenplay, which opened him up to major Hollywood roles, including Oliver Stone's U-Turn (1997) and the sci-fi blockbuster Armageddon (1998). Also in 1998, he gave a compelling performance in Primary Colors as Richard Jemmons, a character based on lively Bill Clinton adviser James Carville. In 1999, he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Jacob Mitchell, the tragic foil in Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan (1998). The following year, he directed Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz in a film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel All the Pretty Horses (2000).
More Notable Roles
In the fall of 2001, Thornton released his first CD, Private Radio, and began an American tour. That same year, he starred in a string of movies, including the comedy Bandits, costarring Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchett; the offbeat The Man Who Wasn't There, made by filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen and co-starring Frances McDormand and James Gandolfini; and the dark drama Monster's Ball, co-starring Halle Berry, in which Thornton played a racist prison guard. The latter two films earned Thornton twin Golden Globe nods, for best actor in a comedy and best actor in a drama, respectively.
In 2004, the actor played Davy Crockett opposite Dennis Quaid's Sam Houston in the big-budget feature The Alamo.
While he continues to act, Thornton has recently devoted a lot of his time to his music. His band, the Boxmasters, released their latest album Modbilly in 2009. While in Canada on a tour with the group that April, Thornton attracted some attention for an interview he did with a television journalist there. He became belligerent after the interviewer made reference to his acting career and refused to answer some questions. Soon after the incident, his band canceled the rest of their Canadian tour.
Thornton is also known for his many marriages. On May 5, 2000, Thornton wed fellow Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, his onscreen wife in 1999's Pushing Tin. It was the fifth marriage for Thornton, who was sued for spousal abuse by his fourth wife, Pietra Cherniak, in 1997. Shortly before his marriage to Jolie, Thornton broke off an engagement with his longtime fiancee, actress Laura Dern. Jolie and Thornton divorced in 2003.
Thornton has several children. His oldest is daughter Amanda from his first marriage to Melissa Gatlin. He has two sons, William and Harry, with Cherniak. More recently, in 2004, Thornton and girlfriend Connie Angland welcomed a daughter named Bella.