Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Thornton back in director's chair

Billy Bob Thornton also acts in Jayne Mansfield's Car

Billy Bob Thornton has revealed that his frustration at the state of films in the US prompted him to direct his first feature in more than a decade, the 1960s family drama Jayne Mansfield's Car.

Billy Bob, 56, previously directed All the Pretty Horses and Sling Blade, which won him an Oscar for best screenplay. He brought the new movie to the Berlin International Film Festival this week for its premiere.

The cast of the film - one of 18 films competing for the festival's Golden Bear award - includes Billy Bob himself, John Hurt, Robert Duvall and Kevin Bacon.

Set in Alabama in 1969, it depicts the clash of culture and personalities that arises after a woman who left her American husband for an Englishman years earlier dies, and her English family goes to America to fulfil her wish to be buried in her homeland. Feeding the tensions are disagreements over the conflict in Vietnam.

Billy Bob said the meeting of the two families offers a way into "the real subject, which is how different generations view war, how different generations are affected by war, and how that affects the family".

"I was complaining a lot about the state of movies in America," he said at the festival. "Instead of complaining, I decided to just write one and direct it, and it's a story that I'd had in my head for a long time."

"One of the things that's wrong with movies today is they try to squeeze people into roles who don't belong there simply because of their popularity," Billy Bob said, adding that he may now go on to direct more films.

"If I can keep making movies like this I will do it, but I probably won't direct the next Star Trek movie or anything like that."

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