Entertainment behind the scenes
Call Billy Bob Thornton a musician…or else.
Hollywood’s own Billy Bob Thornton, who has embarked on a music career with his band the Boxmasters, sat down on Wednesday for an interview with CBC Radio in Canada, and tried to get away with acting like he has never been in a movie. Odd, perhaps, for a man who was Oscar-nominated for best actor twice and won an Oscar for writing “Sling Blade.”
In the interview, which the public radio network has put online, host Jian Ghomeshi introduced Thornton’s band, in which Thornton plays the drums and sings, and talked about Thornton’s “other job” as an “Oscar-winning screenwriter, actor and director.” From there, it was all downhill as Thornton simply did not want to talk movies and seemed to take offense that he was anything but a musician, first and foremost.
Seeming to take a page from Joaquin Phoenix, Thornton gave his best spaced-out answer to a question about musical influences by talking about how as a kid he built plastic model monsters from a magazine.
When Ghomeshi prefaced another question with “given that you seem to be quite passionate about music,” Thornton asked the radio host if he would ask Tom Petty that question.
“Would I say that he’s passionate about music?” Ghomeshi said. “Yeah.”
“Really?” Thornton replied. “Would you explain that it’s not a hobby.” Ghomeshi seemed to be at a loss for words at the answer that, in itself, didn’t seem to make sense. So, he went on.
Thornton later injected a few expletives in a rant in which he told Ghomeshi that the host was “instructed” not to talk about him as an actor. “I’m not really instructed, you guys are here as a band, you’re performing,” Ghomeshi replied.
Thornton talked about growing up as a “music historian,” then later refused to join his bandmates in playing a song, on the excuse that he did not bring his drum set.
Of course, the difference between Phoenix and Thornton is that the latter has actually released a few albums of music, whereas Phoenix retired from acting to pursue a career in rap but has convinced no one of his musical abilities.
Nevertheless, both actors have displayed a confused hostility during interviews that calls to mind some of the uncooperative, interview-as-performance-art conversations that major stars such as Bob Dylan have engaged in with journalists in the past. The difference is that, like Tom Petty, Dylan is a Grammy Award-winning musician and Thornton, so far, is not.