BILLY BOB THORNTON Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Born in Hot Springs, Arkansas on August 4, 1955, Billy Bob was named after his father (Billy) and his mother’s grandfather (Bob). Billy Bob Thornton is the oldest son of high school basketball coach Billy Ray Thornton and Virginia Faulkner Thornton, a psychic. He was followed by two brothers: Jimmy Don, born in 1958, and John David, born in 1969. Billy Bob began his artistic career as a musician, playing drums and singing in a band called Tres Hombres, which once opened for Hank Williams Jr’. Throughout high school, he would spend his weekends playing drums and singing in the style of his musical idols wherever he could, from VFW clubs to roadhouses where there was chicken wire across the front of the stage. Coached by Malvern High School’s drama teacher, Maudie Treadway, Billy Bob studied acting and eventually played the lead in the school play Egad, What a Cad. Following high school, Billy Bob joined a local soul group named Blue and the Blue Velvets and eventually formed his own soul group Hot ’Lanta. Billy Bob played drums and shared lead vocals with the Brothers Shipp as they began performing for colleges and high schools throughout Arkansas and Texas. He tried out as a baseball player for the Kansas City Royals, but a fateful, wild pitch during his first at-bat caught him in the shoulder and broke his collarbone, putting an end to his athletic career. He also did time as a roadie, setting up mikes for bands like Lighthouse and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Over the next few years, Billy Bob led an eclectic working life. At times he toiled in local businesses as a grocery store clerk, a painter, a drill press operator in a machine shop, assembled screen doors, made chains for bikes and chainsaws, drove a bulldozer, hauled hay, and managed to get through a stint at the local saw mill with all his fingers intact.


With help from friends, he landed a few small parts and made his feature debut in 1988’s direct-to-video release Hunter’s Blood. After a brief turn as a soldier in the Bette Middler vehicle For The Boys, Billy Bob had his first brush with the creative-control side of the movie business, making the critically lauded One False Move with Epperson in 1991. With Billy Bob’s stock in Hollywood on the rise, the film’s minor success allowed him to sell the idea of Sling Blade, the script which he had handwritten on the sets of various productions. Thornton had appeared in several television shows and low budget movies in the 1980s, and in 1991 earned critical praise for the script of the movie One False Move (co-written with his partner, Tom Epperson). After the success of Sling Blade Thornton moved into bigger budget movies such as Primary Colors (1998, with John Travolta) and Armageddon (1998, with Bruce Willis), and stayed busy on both sides of the camera. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in A Simple Plan (1998), he co-wrote the screenplay for The Gift (2000, with Cate Blanchett) and he directed Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz in the 2000 feature All The Pretty Horses. In 2001 he teamed again with Willis and Blanchett in the comedy Bandits.When he is not busy with his acting and music careers, Billy Bob enjoys staying home, spending lots of time with his children, shooting pool (he remains an accomplished trick shot artist), rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals, shopping for music and vintage threads, and on occasion adding to his collection of tattoos. He also has his own line of stylish country-western-themed men’s shirts, designed by Dave Cadison of CadZoots. He enjoys meeting and talking with his fans as he encounters them and remains a popular public figure.