5 Questions For Billy Bob Thornton

2012-05 FEA Berlin Billy Bob Thornton H
Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival

The multihyphenate discusses his Berlin entry, "Jane Mansfield's Car," what brought him back to directing and why he's looking forward to reuniting with Angelina.

The multihyphenate discusses his Berlin entry Jayne Mansfield's Car, what brought him back to directing and why he's looking forward to reuniting with Angelina.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Is your movie about Jayne Mansfield's 1967 car wreck?

Billy Bob Thornton: It is a metaphor. One scene deals with that. It's about the romanticism of horror. It's really about the character Robert Duvall plays and his three sons. Duvall was a medic in World War I. His three sons were in World War II: me, Kevin Bacon and Robert Patrick. Our mother left our father years ago for an Englishman, John Hurt. So John Hurt and Robert Duvall always hated each other long-distance, without ever knowing each other.

THR: Sounds like A Family Thing, your 1996 film with Duvall and James Earl Jones as half-brothers.

Thornton: Yeah. This is probably somewhere between that and Sling Blade. When our mother dies, the English family -- Ray Stevenson, John Hurt and Frances O'Connor -- bring her back home to be buried in Alabama. You see how all these people connect through war.

THR: Why did you decide to co-write and direct again after so long?

Thornton: Because, frankly, after All the Pretty Horses [2000] I had a big argument with [Miramax]. I love directing between the first day of action and the last day of cut. However, preproduction is a bunch of people telling you how you're gonna do it and who you're gonna cast, and postproduction is telling you how you're going to cut it and market it. I didn't want to get beat up again. I finally got tired of listening to myself bitch about how I wish they would make better movies.

THR: What's your impression of the Berlin festival?

Thornton: It's got a lot of class. I'm just honored to be in it, frankly. It's the only festival we've tried to get in.

THR: How do you feel about Angelina Jolie being there with In the Land of Blood and Honey?

Thornton: We were overjoyed. I'm hoping we get to see each other. The uproar will be that she's there. I'll be the guy in the corner having a smoke, and people will go, "Hey, isn't that that guy?"