As great of an actor as he is, Billy Bob Thornton is also a very talented writer/director, and in his latest release, Jayne Mansfield’s Car (out in theaters on September 13th), he’s expertly doing all three, alongside a cast that includes Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, Ray Stevenson, Katherine LaNasa and Frances O’Connor. While we will run the portion of our interview with what Thornton had to say about making that film closer to its release date, we did want to share what he had to say about two highly anticipated projects that he’s connected to.
During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, Billy Bob Thornton talked about how everyone involved still wants to make Bad Santa 2 happen, and that it’s the kind of movie you do a sequel for, but that they jumped the gun a bit in saying just how quickly it would go into production. He also talked about what drew him to the FX mini-series Fargo, just how good the pilot script is, and not wanting to pass up working with Joel and Ethan Coen (who are executive producers on the project) again. Check out what he had to asy after the jump.
Collider: A couple of years ago, it was announced that Bad Santa 2 was moving forward with a 2013 release date, but here we are, nearing the latter half of 2013 and there hasn’t been much talk about it in awhile. Is that something that’s still going to happen, and is that something that you want to have happen?
BILLY BOB THORNTON: We all want it to happen. It’s all logistics. That’s this business crap, with the rights here, and a person who thinks this, and this person wanting that kind of script. It’s just that stuff. They’re still working on it. When they first said, “Hey, we’re gonna make a sequel to Bad Santa,” I said, “That’s nice. I loved playing that character.” It’s become an iconic movie, and the public wants to see a sequel. I said, “I’ve never done a sequel, but it makes sense to me to do this sequel.” It’s the kind of movie you do a sequel for, so I was all for it.
I think our mistake, and certainly my mistake, was that when people heard about it on the internet or in interviews, they would ask me, “Are you guys doing Bad Santa?,” and I would say, “Oh, yeah, we’re gonna do it this Fall.” I guess I’m still a little bit of a hayseed. I don’t know. When people tell me stuff, I still believe it. So, I think the mistake was that when they said they were gonna do it, we just said, “Yeah, we’re doing it.” The fact of the matter is, we may be doing it. They are working on it. It could be the end of this coming year, or it could be next year, or never. That’s the real honest answer.
What drew you to the FX mini-series Fargo? Was it just a script and character that was too good to pass up?
THORNTON: Yeah. I’ve really dreamed of doing television. All of us do television, coming up. But when I was coming up, television was a black hole for actors. Now, television has a certain cache. Now everybody wants to be on TV because they’re doing adult dramas. If you’re an actor, it’s like, “Well, get me on television,” because it’s the only place you can do it and also make a living at it. If my kids need shoes, I better do a TV show because I damn sure don’t make any money with independent films. So as a result, every now and then, you’ve gotta go do a big movie. These days, I’m not young enough to play a superhero, not that I ever did. Now, I would have to be the Mayor in Batman, or something like that.
But, Joel and Ethan Coen are involved [with Fargo]. They’re producing it with Warren Littlefield. So, it comes from a real pedigree. They asked me if I would like to star in this new thing based on Fargo, and the really interesting and enticing thing for me was that they said, “This is not a TV series. This is 10 one-hour episodes.” So I said, “Let me read the script.” I read the script and I said, “I’ll take it!” It’s just so good. The pilot script was so good. And with Joel and Ethan involved, and with their blessing, it means a lot. I’ve worked with them a couple of times and love them. So, the short answer is, yes, it was too good to pass up.