Ever since his breakout, Oscar-nominated role in Sling Blade, Billy Bob Thornton has carved a successful career in movies including Armageddon, A Simple Plan, Monsters Ball, and Bad Santa, yet he became more famous than ever when he married Angelina Jolie in 2000.
The tumultuous marriage — his fifth — lasted only three years, but surprisingly enough, the exes are quite friendly now, as Thornton — who stars in the TV series Fargo premiering on FX tonight — reveals here.
YourTango: Why did you decide to do a TV series?
Billy Bob Thornton: The motion picture studios make big event movies, and they make broad comedies, and they make action movies and movies about vampires where evidently vampires are all models. And so television has now taken that spot. For actors who really want to do good dramatic work or good work with dark humor and drama, you kind of have to do it on television. But it all comes down to the writing. While paying a great tribute to the movie Fargo and having the same tone, this is its own fresh thing. And it was just so well written.
YourTango: What intrigued you about your character Lorne Malvo?
Billy Bob Thornton: He's truly an enigma. He's a mysterious stranger from out of town. Nobody knows why he's there, what he's up to, that kind of thing. He's not a typical bad guy. He's not only capable of very dangerous things, but he also is very mischievous and toys with people.
YourTango: You're much thinner now than you were when you starred in Sling Blade, your first big break.
Billy Bob Thornton: Yeah, I was about 25 pounds heavier then. I wanted to be bigger for that and U Turn — I gained 50 pounds — and Tombstone. I'm never going to do that again. It's really too hard on you.
YourTango: Are you still involved in music?
Billy Bob Thornton: Yeah. I just recorded a new record with my band The Boxmasters, called Providence. It'll be out in May, but I probably won't go on the road again until the fall.
YourTango: Are you in touch with Angelina?
Billy Bob Thornton: Oh of course, yeah. She's amazing, amazing. She's got so much energy and so much goodness in her, and we check in on each other all the time. She makes sure I'm doing okay. I make sure she's doing okay.