Billy Bob Thornton on Why TV is Better Than FilmsBy: Pam Wright - April 16, 2014
Billy Bob Thornton, 58, has been in the movie business for many years as an actor and director, but the Fargo actor says TV is the place to be these days.
“Television has taken that slot that the movies aren’t doing any more,” said Thornton in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “They’re not doing the mid-range budget studio movies, the $25-30 million adult drama, or even adult comedy, really. And the independent films, they want to give you $3 or $4 million, they want you to put 10 movie stars in it so they can sell off all the foreign territories. And there’s not as much freedom in movies sometimes: you can do movies about heroin smugglers, but you can’t smoke in a movie.
“Plus, TV now has this cache. Everybody’s dying to get on TV. I was influenced by Southern novelists, and there’s no place for that in a movie theater any more. So if I’m going to do anything [like that] in the future, maybe I can do that on TV. Maybe they’ll start doing more three-part things like [Kevin] Costner did with Hatfields and McCoys. Maybe I could do something like that. So I wasn’t looking to get on a TV series that lasts six or seven years, but they said, ‘Coen brothers, Fargo.’ I read the script, it was amazing, and then they said, ‘After 10 episodes, you’re done.’ I said, ‘Yeah, count me in.’ That was essentially it.”
Thornton says he loves playing Fargo character Lorne Malvo.
“I love the fact that he has no conscience at all, and yet he’s got this bizarre sense of humor where he likes to mess with people — when he doesn’t even have to. Because he could just leave [town]. But he doesn’t. Like, if he goes in to rob the clothing store, instead of just taking the money, he says, “You work in a clothing store and you’re wearing that shirt? Why?” For him, that’s his own social life, just messing with his victims.”
Thornton said he gave little thought to taking on the TV version of the seven-time Academy Award-winning film, including Best Picture.
“[The script] was so good. The Coen brothers gave it their blessing, and I figured, Why not? It’s like making a 10-hour independent film. And by nature, I think most people, when they love a movie, they wish it could keep going,” said Thornton. “And here you get to. And the other thing — as I get older, one of the things I’ve learned is it doesn’t matter what you do now, you’re going to get sh– for it anyway. So if you do something that just gets [just] some sh–, that’s successful.”
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