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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  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?”
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