Billy Bob Thornton Video Interview On ‘Jayne Mansfield’s Car,’ Robert Duvall
Billy Bob Thornton returns to directing with his new film Jayne Mansfield’s Car. Thornton found directing and starring alongside an all-star cast, including Robert Duvall, John Hurt and Kevin Bacon, to be almost effortless. “Really you just call ‘Action’ and ‘Cut.’ There’s nothing to it,” Thornton told Uinterview exclusively.
The movie is set in 1969 Alabama and tells the story of the three Caldwell brothers (Thornton, Bacon and Robert Patrick), all World War II veterans, and their father, patriarch played by Duvall. After the death of the clan’s estranged mother, the family ends up in a cultural clash with their English relatives.
Deciding to return to directing was a natural decision for Thornton, once he began to develop the film’s story. “I think I’m only the best guy to direct the things that I’m very close to,” he said. “And I just didn’t have a story that I wanted to tell for a few years and then this one had been rolling around in my head so I just thought it was time.”
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Well, I've always looked at it as being easier, frankly, because there's no middle man, you know? I mean, especially when you've written the script and you kind of know it inside and out, there's not a lot of explanation, you know, that has to take place. So I've always rather enjoyed it. And when you're in the middle of a scene, you can feel if it's working or not, and with the use of video playback, it makes it a lot easier. When we did Sling Blade, we didn't have video playback, so it's quite a luxury.
Well, directing a film's very hard. It takes a long time, and, you know, you have to live with it for quite some time. And I was pretty busy as an actor all throughout the last decade and, so once you're rolling as an actor, you kind of, you know, just stick with it. I'm not really a director who directs every year or two anyway. I never was. I just kind of think I'm better at directing my own things. So I probably wouldn't be the best director to hire if they were, you know, doing some sort of science fiction movie or something like that. I'm not really a director by trade. I think I'm only the best guy to direct the things that I'm very close to. And I just didn't have a story that I wanted to tell for a few years and then this one had been rolling around in my head so I just thought it was time.
Yeah, I mean, I think it's good, it's good to kind of have some time to be away from things and really examine them. You always learn something anytime you do anything. Actors and directors, writers, anybody. I think you always have, have a nervousness and a fear about doing it each time and I think if you ever get over that, you're probably losing some of your artistic quality anyway. Because I think that nervous excitement and that fear drives you. So being away from it for awhile, it probably was a little more daunting since I hadn't done it in awhile. But at the same time, I was very excited to do it. Especially because I was working with a lot of people that I knew, for instance, Robert Duvall and Kevin Bacon, John Hurt, Robert Patrick. All those guys are people I have known over the years. And it really helps when you have friends there who are great actors.
Once you pick the right people, probably over half your job is done, really. That's the most important thing. You need the right crew and the right cast in there and once you've picked that, I believe it's time to, in a way, step out. Someone asked me what it was like directing Robert Duvall, which I'd done before. He played my father in Sling Blade. It was only one scene but he had also directed me in The Apostle. Someone was asking me if I was nervous directing a legend like Robert Duvall and I said, 'No, really you just call 'Action' and 'Cut.'' There's nothing to it.
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