Some people pick up a reputation over the years with interviewers, and Billy Bob Thornton is one of those guys who I've heard both good and bad about, certainly.
The thing is, when you look at the good interviews he's done, it seems like all he really wants is for people to have a real conversation with him instead of feeding him cues for pre-packaged sound bites like he's doing a trick.
When I sat down with him last Friday at the press day for "Faster," he was great from the moment I walked in the room. Relaxed, engaged, and when the cameras finally rolled, we were already mid-conversation.
I think Thornton is a great character actor, the kind of guy we don't have enough of these days. I cannot overstate how perfect I think his work in "A Simple Plan" is, and I think he approaches each role with a filmmaker's perspective, which makes sense.
He is, after all, a writer. He's a director. And he's been an actor long enough to be a guy who has taken jobs because he just plain needed work. And so when he has an opinion, and when he's a collaborator on a film, I think he brings something special to the mix.
I love guys who are film literate enough to start from a conversational short cut, like a discussion of the archetypes of Sergio Leone and Thornton's work as the "Ugly" in this particular film, and then move to a more general conversation about the process. I have a feeling I could have sat there talking to him for another hour without running out of steam at all, and it was a real pleasure, even if it was too brief.
"Faster" opened in theaters everywhere today.