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Jan 27/17

Billy Bob Thornton on Laughing at Tragedy Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton has a new film venture coming out this fall, and as he has wont to do, the director, actor and all around deep-thinker portrays the South humorously, profoundly and truthfully, without ever dipping into cliche. He says he’s inspired by Tennessee Williams, and he put the renowned writer “in the back seat” of his new movie. Love him or hate him, the guy has got talent, and his new film follows the dysfunctions of one Southern family, proving that we can find humor in tragedy. (Even though, most of us already knew that, he puts a poignant spin on an old theme.)

He talks to Deep South Magazine about his new film, Jane Mansfield’s Car, as well as his motivations for putting idiosyncratic Southern characters on film. Here’s how he described growing up in the South. (He was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for the record.)

I grew up around a lot of characters, and you either know the South inside out or you don’t. I love the characters down there. I like to treat them with respect. Even if we have somebody who’s crazy or whatever it is, we embrace our crazy people. We don’t look at it as a bad thing necessarily. Sometimes dramas are over earnest, you know, and don’t have enough humor in them, and then a lot of times comedies have no heart. Growing up in the South, especially, humor and tragedy are so closely related to each other. It was in our literature, in the storytelling and everything. That’s how this movie comes about. The reason the tone is the way it is is because that was the tone of my life growing up down there. It’s dramatic and darkly humorous.

And for the Hog football fans in the house, he even throws in a quote about the Razorbacks.

I’m actually watching the replay of last year’s LSU-Alabama game on TV right now. I’m a big SEC guy so I’m very excited for the season and hopefully the Razorbacks will do better than 5 and 7 this year. We’re usually really good. It’s like, last year, our coach decided to go off with that girl on the motorcycle and we fall apart, but we got a new coach now so we have high hopes.

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