Billy Bob Thornton (born August 4, 1955, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to a father of Irish descent and an Italian/Choctaw Native American mother) is an American actor, and also an occasional director, playwright, screenwriter and singer. He has married five times and his most recent ex-wife is actress Angelina Jolie.
In his late twenties, Billy Bob Thornton settled on
Los Angeles to pursue his career as an actor alongside
future writing partner Tom Epperson. Like many other
actors, Thornton had a difficult time succeeding as an
actor while taking on several odd jobs such as
telemarketing, fast food management, and any way to
support himself while waiting for a big break. The actor
suffered a bout of myocarditis which is inflammation of
the heart since all he could afford to eat was potatoes.
With his mother's encouragement, Thornton kept plugging
away for his big break. It was later on while Thornton
was working as a waiter for an industry event that he
was serving film director Billy Wilder. Thornton struck
up a conversation with the film legend who had advised
the actor that he should write for himself to help
utilize his looks.
He first came to semi-prominence as a cast member on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire with John Ritter and Markie Post. His role as the villain in One False Move brought him to the attention of critics. He also had small roles in films like Indecent Proposal, On Deadly Ground, and Tombstone.
In 1996, Billy Bob Thornton wrote, directed, and starred in an independent film titled Sling Blade, an expansion of a short film titled Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade. It is the story of Karl Childers, a mentally retarded man. Sling Blade garnered international acclaim, won Thornton an Academy Award for his screenplay (as well as a nomination for his performance), which made him an overnight movie star.
Thornton is a rare celebrity in that he has A-list status, but plays both leading-man roles and character roles. His southern, small-town persona has led him to be cast in a number of down-to-earth, "regular guy" parts. Even his role as the legendary Davy Crockett in 2004's The Alamo made an effort to demythologize the character and bring out his human foibles.
After Billy Bob Thornton's success in Hollywood Thornton, who has a life-long love for music, decided to start a singer-songwriter career. The result was the dark and personal roots rock album Private Radio, released in 2001. After that Thornton has released two more albums, the critically-acclaimed The Edge of the World in 2003 and Hobo in 2005. He also performed the Warren Zevon song The Wind on the tribute album Enjoy Every Sandwich: Songs of Warren Zevon.
Thornton is known for various idiosyncratic behaviors, well-documented in interviews with the actor. Among these is a phobia for antique furniture, something shared by the Dwight Yoakam character in the Thornton-penned Sling Blade. That trait was also added to Thornton's character in the 2001 film Bandits. He and actress Angelina Jolie famously wore vials of each others' blood around their necks while married to each other.
Thornton lives in Los Angeles and has a home in Paris.