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Interview with "School for Scoundrels" Star Billy Bob Thornton


Interview with "School for Scoundrels" Star Billy Bob Thornton

Billy Bob Thornton, Jacinda Barrett, and Jon Heder in School for Scoundrels.

© The Weinstein Company

Page 2

Relating to Losers: Billy Bob Thornton’s character has it all figured out and teaches so-called losers how to tap into their strength in School for Scoundrels. In real life, Thornton admits he can definitely relate to the feeling of being a loser. “Oh absolutely, I’ve been a loser many times. I’ve got a lot of sympathy for losers. Yeah, I think the point of this movie is you should be more confident. You should have confidence in yourself and it will get you further in your life, but don’t be an a**hole about it. You can’t let it go over into arrogance and power madness and stuff like that. And then for Jon’s character, it’s like, ‘Yeah you should be nice and honest and everything, but don’t let it become weakness.’ I think both guys have their point and neither one of them know how to do it properly.”

Taking to the Court: In a scene involving a lot of physical comedy, Heder and Thornton play reluctant tennis partners who team up to take on Jacinda Barrett and Sarah Silverman. While Barrett and Heder claim to be decent at the sport, Thornton confessed to not being all that talented on the court. “I’ve never been any good at tennis. I never have been. I didn’t really grow up with much tennis or golf; I was raised sort of on the other side of the tracks, in a kind of poorer suburb. We weren’t allowed in the country club, you know what I’m saying?”

Billy Bob Thornton on Upcoming Projects: “I have something I want to direct. I’m having trouble getting financing for it because these days it’s really hard to get a movie made if it’s not all about explosions or a teen comedy. Certain things are easier to get made and the studios have really cracked down on budgets lately. They want you to make movies for $12 to $15 million or a big movie for $150 million, and the movies in the middle, which are usually the good ones, it’s really hard to get them financed. I’m doing one that would require about a $25 to $30 million budget. It’s really hard to talk anybody into it, especially since it’s a real serious subject and it’s a period piece.”

Thornton said, “It’s based on a real story, on a non-fiction book, and there has been a script written by my old writer partner Tom Epperson. And I would probably do a pass at it myself before I would direct it, but first we’ve got to think about somebody financing it. It’s the story of Floyd Collins in the 1920s. He was the biggest media event of 1925. [He was] a guy who was trapped in a cave and it became a huge media event. The reason I want to make the movie is because it’s very relevant right now. It’s about how the media wouldn’t become the big machine that it is if people didn’t want it. It’s not a movie that’s blaming the media for everything; it’s a movie that actually says if human nature weren’t so that they want to see other people suffering for their own entertainment, the stories would mean nothing anyway. It’s people who like to watch people’s tragedy and then it becomes huge. That’s why I really want to make the movie, because these days it’s worse than ever.”

Answering a Question Left Unasked: Press junkets usually work this way: Journalists are divided into groups made up of somewhere between 6 and 10 people and then assigned to a specific hotel room. The talent from a movie then goes from room to room, answering questions for about 15 minutes before moving on to the next group. It’s a fairly simple system that works well for both the media and the talent involved. The reason for this lengthy explanation into the ins and outs of a press junket is to set up Billy Bob Thornton’s last answer of the day.

The room I was assigned to was the only group that didn’t ask Billy Bob Thornton about a specific line from the movie in which he makes reference to adopting a Chinese baby. As he was exiting our room, Thornton said, “God bless you guys for not asking me the horrible question that you could have asked me. Thank you very much. You’re the first ones, and I really appreciate it. I guess you probably figure, as we’ve been here for a while, it’s just a stupid line in a script. I just said it; it means nothing and had nothing to do with anything. I just wanted to give you that so you’ll know. It was a comment on yuppies and stuff in Brentwood who always do that. Everybody knows that I would never… I’m not that stupid. I would never say something like that because I made it up. And besides it’s not saying anything bad. It’s just saying, ‘Hey, oh really you guys are close, you think so? Well the next thing you know…’”

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