Billy Bob Thornton (born August 4, 1955) is an American actor, filmmaker, and singer-songwriter. Thornton made his first break with co-writing and starring in the 1992 thriller One False Move and came to international attention after writing, directing, and starring in the independent drama Sling Blade (1996), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He appeared in several major film roles in the 1990s following Sling Blade, including Oliver Stone’s neo-noir U Turn (1997), political drama Primary Colors (1998), science fiction disaster Armageddon (1998), which was the highest-grossing film of that year and the crime drama A Simple Plan (1998), which earned him his third Oscar nomination.
In the 2000s, he achieved further success in starring dramas Monster’s Ball (2001), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), Friday Night Lights (2004), comedies Bandits (2001), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), Bad Santa (2003) and actions Eagle Eye (2008) and Faster (2010). In 2014, Thornton starred in the anthology series Fargo and earned a nomination for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie at the Emmy Awards and won Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards.
Thornton is cited as an “anti-film star” who approaches his roles like a character actor and rarely accepts roles in blockbusters. He has been vocal about his disrespect for celebrity culture, choosing to keep his life out of the public eye. However, the attention of the media has proven unavoidable in certain cases, his marriage to Angelina Jolie being a notable example. As an influential actor, Thornton is known for his diversity, wide range, and prolificacy, appearing in at least one film per year nearly every year since 1991. Thornton has written a variety of films, usually set in the Southern United States and mainly co-written with Tom Epperson, including A Family Thing (1996) and The Gift (2000). After Sling Blade, he directed several other films, including Daddy and Them (2001), All the Pretty Horses (2000), and Jayne Mansfield’s Car (2012).
Thornton has received the President’s Award from Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, a Special Achievement Award from National Board of Review, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award, four Golden Globes, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. In addition to film work, Thornton began a career as a singer-songwriter. He has released four solo albums and is the vocalist of a blues rock band The Boxmasters.