Exclusive: Billy Bob Thornton’s Next Directing Project is JAYNE MANSFIELD’S CAR; Plus a Sequel to BAD SANTA?!

     November 21, 2010

While the last decade has seen Billy Bob Thornton only acting in front of the camera, it seems that he’s planning a return to the director’s chair.  I say this because at this weekend’s junket for Faster, Thornton told me that he’s writing a script called Jayne Mansfield’s Car with his old writing partner Tom Epperson and he hopes to get it made this spring.  After the cameras stopped rolling, I asked if he’d be directing the project.  He said yes.  

On top of that, if you’re a fan of Bad Santa, Thornton told me, “there’s been talk of making a sequel to it, which I actually would like to do.”

More after the jump:

While many of you might only think of Billy Bob Thornton as an actor, way back in 1996, he actually broke on the scene as a writer-director with Sling Blade.  After the critically success of that film, he continued writing for the next few years and also directed All the Pretty Horses (2000) and Daddy and Them (2001). However, since ’01, he hasn’t directed a film.  While neither film had the critical or commercial success of his debut, I’d like to see what he would do after a decade off.  Also, since he last directed, he’s worked with a number of great filmmakers and I’d like to think some of those experiences would help him on his next project.

And regarding Bad Santa

Sometime in 2002, I drove out to Pasadena with Jeremy Smith (Mr. Beaks) from AICN.  We’d heard about a test screening for Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa with Billy Bob Thornton and decided to try and get in.  While I’ve been to many test screenings, I’ll always remember this one, because we were laughing so hard that I had to wipe away tears.

However, when the movie finally got released, it was neutered by Miramax. I remember watching it in the theater and thinking what the hell happened.  However, since it’s original theatrical release, Bad Santa has been released as an unrated director’s cut and you can see Zwigoff’s vision fully restored.  Trust me, if you’ve never watched Bad Santa, do yourself a favor and buy it immediately.  It’s as much a Christmas time classic as Miracle on 34th Street.

So if you’re like me and love the movie, you might be excited to learn Thornton told me there’s been talk of making a sequel.  While I don’t think it’s on a fast track, or likely to happen anytime soon, I would love to see this sequel happen.  Especially if Zwigoff came back and was left alone by the studio.

Anyway, here’s what Thornton told me about both projects, with a transcript of what he said below the video player.  Look for my full interview very soon.

Collider: You’ve done a number of things that I love, but one of the things that I especially love is Bad Santa, is that something that people always wanna talk to you about?

Billy Bob Thornton:  Yeah, I get Bad Santa a lot. Bad Santa’s become like a classic Christmas movie. People watch It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th St. and Bad Santa now is sort of the box set. And there’s been talk of making a sequel to it, which I actually would like to do. I’ve never done a sequel to one of my movies, but that one makes sense to me to do it.

Well what’s interesting, if you don’t mind me talking about that for a second, I went to the very first test screening of that, that was out in like Pasadena or something, and the version I saw that night I fell off my chair laughing. And then they neutered it, and then they put it out, and then they released the director’s cut, it went through a lot of different things. If you ever did a sequel, how do we guarantee that it’s exactly what you guys want on screen?

Billy Bob Thornton:  Probably get a director who’s got the juice to, with whoever makes it, you know puts up the money to get it in blood. That’s the way you have to do it, and hopefully it’ll work.

Really quick, I have to wrap with you, but what else do you have coming up next?

Billy Bob Thornton:  My old writing partner Tom Epperson and I just wrote another script, we haven’t written together in years, 15 maybe. And we’re hoping to get that made in the spring, that’s what we’re working on right now.

Does it have a title?

Billy Bob Thornton:  No title. But it’s a—actually it does have a title, I may as well tell you, maybe it’ll intrigue people. It’s called Jayne Mansfield’s Car, and it’s a dandy if I do say so.

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