Billy Bob Thornton to Star in David E. Kelley's Amazon Legal Drama (Exclusive)

Billy Bob Thorton - H 2015
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Billy Bob Thorton - H 2015

Billy Bob Thornton is be returning to the small screen.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the Emmy-nominated Fargo alum has signed on to star in David E. Kelley's legal drama The Trial for Amazon. Sources indicate that the drama will be picked up straight to series with Thornton attached.

The Trial centers on Billy McBride (Thornton), a once respectable lawyer who was ousted from the high-profile firm he co-founded. Billy now spends his days getting drunk, with the occasional case tossed his way by his ex-wife. However, Billy is reinvigorated professionally when a young lawyer who has just been fired from his old firm brings him a wrongful death case that pits him against the head of his former firm.

Written by Kelley and his Boston Legal/Practice cohort Jonathan Shapiro, the project will be Amazon's first straight-to-series order. The company has traditionally made all pilots available to customers to watch and provide feedback on which ones they want to see turned into series. David Semel (Ally McBeal, Dawson's CreekAmerican Dreams, Madam Secretary) is rumored to direct the pilot. Kelley, Shapiro, Ross Fineman (A&E's Damien) will exec produce.

The news comes after Kevin Costner engaged in conversations but ultimately passed on starring in The Trial, which would have marked his first series regular role.

The Trial would be a homecoming of sorts for Kelley, who made a name for himself writing legal shows including L.A Law, Ally McBeal, The Practice and spinoff Boston Legal. Kelley, whose recent credits include CBS' The Crazy Ones and NBC's Harry's Law, is currently not affiliated with any studio. The prolific producer is also working on a new limited series for HBO — an adaptation of the hit novel Big Little Lies starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

Thornton's recent TV credits include a guest spot on CBS' The Big Bang Theory as well as features Entourage, The Judge and the upcoming Fun House, London Fields and Our Brand is Crisis, among others. He's repped by WME, Media Talent Group and Myman Greenspan.