Billy Bob Thornton MP

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Birthdate: (58)
Birthplace: Hot Springs, AR, USA
Managed by: Noah Tutak
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Billy Bob Thornton

One of Hollywood's few celebrators of the "Southern bad boy" image, country musician turned actor-screenwriter-director Billy Bob Thornton consistently engenders a reputation -- via chosen onscreen parts and fervent tabloid reports of his allegedly wild off-camera life -- as an iconoclastic American hellraiser with lightning in his veins. Thornton gained early recognition as a cast member on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire and in several early 1990s films including On Deadly Ground and Tombstone. In the mid-1990s, after writing, directing, and starring in the independent film Sling Blade, he won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). He appeared in several major film roles following Sling Blade 's success, including 1998's Armageddon and A Simple Plan. During the late 1990s, Thornton, who has had a life-long love for music, began a career as a singer-songwriter. He has released three albums and was the singer of a blues rock band.

Thornton grew up dirt poor in the nearby backwoods community of Alpine. Despite his father's gainful employment as a history teacher, Thornton was forced to live with his parents and grandparents in a house without electricity or indoor plumbing. He had few friends during this time; a notable exception was Tom Epperson, who later became Thornton's trusted colleague and screenwriting partner.

After high-school graduation, Thornton landed a steady job and got married; neither the job nor the marriage lasted, as Thornton divorced two years later and returned to college to study psychology; however, that didn't last, either -- he decided that his heart lay in rock & roll, so he and Epperson attempted to make it in New York before realizing their plan was essentially a pipe dream. So Thornton returned to his job for awhile until he and Epperson renewed their dedication to a music career. They headed for Southern California where, after meeting with a pronounced lack of musical success, they began to write screenplays. It was a difficult time for Thornton who, in addition to living in poverty, also suffered a near-fatal heart attack.

Thornton eventually turned to acting, making his screen debut in the straight-to-video Hunter's Blood in 1987. After years of relative obscurity as an actor and screenwriter, Thornton made a great cultural impact with the low-budget, independent drama Sling Blade for which he won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, as well as a Best Actor Oscar nomination. His acting performance in the film was nearly as acclaimed as the screenplay, which opened him up to major Hollywood roles, including Oliver Stone's U-Turn (1997) and the sci-fi blockbuster Armageddon (1998). Also in 1998, he gave a compelling performance in Primary Colors as Richard Jemmons, a character based on lively Bill Clinton advisor, James Carville. In 1999, he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Jacob Mitchell, the tragic foil in Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan (1998). The following year, he directed Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz in a film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel All the Pretty Horses (2000).

In the fall of 2001, Thornton released his first CD, Private Radio, and began an American tour. That same year, he starred in a string of movies, including the comedy Bandits, costarring Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchett; the offbeat The Man Who Wasn't There, made by filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen and costarring Frances McDormand and James Gandolfini; and the dark drama Monster's Ball, costarring Halle Berry, in which Thornton played a racist prison guard. The latter two films earned Thornton twin Golden Globe nods for Best Actor in a Comedy and Best Actor in a Drama, respectively. In 2004, the actor played Davy Crockett opposite Dennis Quaid's Sam Houston in the big budget feature The Alamo.

While he continues to act, Thornton has recently devoted a lot of his time to his music. His band, the Boxmasters, released their latest album Modbilly in 2009. While in Canada on a tour with the group that April, Thornton attracted some attention for an interview he did with a television journalist there. He became belligerent after the interviewer made reference to his acting career and refused to answer some questions. Soon after the incident, his band cancelled the rest of their Canadian tour.

Though his behind-the-camera projects have become increasingly rare over time, his few directorial outings evince surprising control, refinement, insight, and taste.

Thornton is also known for his many marriages. On May 5, 2000, Thornton wed fellow Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, his onscreen wife in 1999's Pushing Tin. It was the fifth marriage for Thornton, who was sued for spousal abuse by his fourth wife, Pietra Cherniak, in 1997. Shortly before his marriage to Jolie, Thornton broke off an engagement with his longtime fiancee, actress Laura Dern. Jolie and Thornton divorced in 2003.

Thornton has several children. His oldest is daughter Amanda from his first marriage to Melissa Gatlin. He has two sons, William and Harry, with Cherniak. More recently, Thornton and girlfriend Connie Angland welcomed a daughter named Bella in 2004.