Billy Bob Thornton is a master at playing antiheroes. His murderer in Sling Blade, racist executioner in Monster’s Ball, and his foul mouthed womanizing degenerate in Bad Santa all found some form of redemption. Even when he’s a villain who gets his comeuppance like on Fargo season 1, Thornton makes them endearing until the bitter end.
Goliath’s Billy McBride may be the perfect role for Thornton, and his most personal. A disgraced trial lawyer who got vindication against his old law firm in the first season, McBride in season 2 helps his friend’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) son who’s being framed for murder.
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Victory may be harder for McBride than being disgraced. He won $50 million from the case in season 1 and doesn’t quite know what to do with himself as season 2 begins.
“I think it’s hard for Billy to reconcile this kind of success, just like me in real life,” Thornton told Rotten Tomatoes. “I still don’t know how to act. Being somebody that got successful in this stuff, I’m not far away from the character in a lot of ways. In other words, it’s easy for me to go there every day and put those clothes on, because they’re the same clothes I wear in my regular life.”
Even a giant win like this might not last McBride long. He’s being overly generous with his winnings, giving away cars and cash.
“I’ve done that too,” Thornton admitted. “I’m a Leo so Leos tend to do that. ‘Oh, everybody get a drink. It’s on me.’ Maybe in a way it’s like yeah, I want the money, but then once he’s got it, it’s just here to spend and [he] doesn’t particularly pay that much attention. Fortunately he’s got a daughter who keeps him in check a little bit.”
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McBride bought a fancy beach house for his daughter’s visits, but he still calls the Chez Jay motel home.
“He certainly doesn’t want to move into the fancy house he bought,” McBride said. “He feels weird there. He likes the motel. He likes Chez Jay. Why would he change that? That’s his mind.”
You’ll still find McBride on the beach drinking out of a bottle, a cigarette in the other hand. Thornton relates to sitting out the media circus too.
“At the end of the day I’m a little bit agoraphobic,” Thornton said. “I don’t get out much. You don’t normally see me on the red carpet and Star Tracks in the magazine and all that. I’m not out there too much. I’m kind of uncomfortable around rich people, kind of uncomfortable around social scenes, so it’s easy to play a guy who likes to just walk down to Venice Beach by himself and sit there and have a smoke.”
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Thanks to Goliath, Thornton doesn’t have to go out much. He still does a movie in between seasons, but he wouldn’t even have to.
“Really, that’s all I have to do every year although I’m predominantly a film actor, so I want to keep doing movies,” Thornton said. “After the first season, I was kinda like yeah, maybe one more and I’m good. After we’ve filmed a second season, it’s like yeah, I’d like to do a couple more of these. I’m now into this guy where I can’t imagine not playing him.”
Season 2 finds Billy McBride in uncharted territory with a murder case, not his normal area of practice. In order to get Julio Suarez (Diego Josef) free, McBride will have to do more field work to get some dirt on the corrupt mayoral candidate (Ana de la Reguera) and real estate tycoon Tom Wyatt (Mark Duplass).
“This one has less in the courtroom and more out snooping around,” Thornton said. “Billy’s more lawyer-detective in this one. He has to get out there and get involved more this time. It’s not just going out and interviewing a witness at the house this time and then going back to court. He gets up to some shenanigans in this one.”
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Tom Wyatt and his cronies are no match for Billy McBride, but they may not know it at first.
“I don’t think Tom Wyatt is intimidated by Billy McBride,” Duplass said. “Tom Wyatt is very, very powerful. He hasn’t had any obstacles in his life that he hasn’t been able to overcome. I think there’s a level of sociopathy there that allows him to shape shift and get done what he needs to get done. I don’t think he identifies Billy as somebody who’s going to be a problem for him.”
These smug rich guys in suits think they own everyone. They’ve never met someone like Billy McBride, who has a countermove for all of their moves.
“Billy’s good at smelling a rat,” Thornton said. “I think that’s one of his main strengths.”
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The audience can look forward to seeing Billy McBride make Tom Wyatt and his henchmen sweat.
“When you’ve got a person who thinks that they are above the law and that they can do things that will harm people or negatively affect people and there won’t be any consequences, I think you want to see them get taken down,” Duplass said. “That’s part of the joy of watching a show like Goliath. Billy Bob Thornton as a person is a real seeker of truth and honesty. I think that’s very evident in the character of Billy McBride too.”
Tom Wyatt and Billy McBride will come face to face in Goliath, and Duplass may have had more butterflies from that encounter than Tom Wyatt does.
“Billy Bob Thornton is just as intimidating as Billy McBride,” Duplass said. “He’s got so much emotional power to him. When he walks in the room, you just feel it, but he does a really good job of making everyone feel comfortable. He’s super open and conversational, very easy to be around. Within five minutes we were talking about our kids. He’s still intimidating as sh-t once the cameras start rolling.”
For an actor as vulnerable as Thornton has admitted to being, to hear that someone is intimidated by him is shocking.
“I look at acting as a very natural thing,” Thornton said. “Once we get into it, Mark and I only had like one or two scenes together and they’re very natural. He doesn’t have to worry about keeping up with me. Nobody does. If you’re in a scene and both of you are being honest, you got it made. He seemed at ease to me. I didn’t think I ever had to put him at ease. He seemed perfectly fine.”
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You will see Thornton on the big screen again in the film adaptation of A Million Little Pieces. Thornton plays Leonard in the adaptation of James Frey’s memoir, which drew controversy when it was discovered that Frey invented some of his memoir.
“I look at it this way,” Thornton said. “Let’s say it’s not based on reality. It’s still an interesting, amazing book to read so it’s worthy of a movie. Then they took it a step further from the book. A lot of stuff is the same but there’s a lot of stuff they took liberties with. They’re just trying to make a good movie, not something that’s true to a book which wasn’t even true to itself.”
Saying goodbye to a beloved character may be the hardest part for Thornton. He got to play Willie Soke one more time in Bad Santa 2, 13 years after the original. He wouldn’t rule out a Bad Santa 3 either, but most of his favorite characters were one and done.
“There are characters that I never wanted to stop playing,” Thornton said. “The character in A Simple Plan, Jacob, never wanted to stop. I wished that movie went on for five years. The Man Who Wasn’t There, Sling Blade, Monster’s Ball, Bad Santa, The Alamo, Bandits — all those movies. I just loved playing the characters. I didn’t want any of them to end. All those movies have varying degrees of success with box office or public or critics, but the experience of them was always great.”
So Billy McBride is certainly a keeper.
“Yes, I’m used to it now,” Thornton said. “I’d like to do it as long as they’ll let me.”
Goliath season 2 is available now on Amazon Prime.
Ashton Kutcher fans get two chances to see (or hear) their favorite star this weekend as the Hollywood prankster takes on reigning box office champ "Jackass: Number Two" by voicing a mule deer in the animated comedy "Open Season" and going up against Kevin Costner in the action drama "The Guardian."
Hollywood’s umpteenth computer-animated feature film of the year hits multiplexes on Friday in the form of "Open Season." The PG-rated pic features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Kutcher and finds a domesticated grizzly bear being dropped into the wilderness right before the start of hunting season. Young kids usually eat up these fish-out-of-water comedy toons and this Sony release should play to the same family audience. The target demographic has had an endless line of movies this year featuring talking animals getting into wacky situations, but since the current marketplace is lacking any major offering for children, "Open Season" should score as the first animated hit of the new school year. The studio is saturating the market with screens giving the film the fourth widest bow ever for a non-DreamWorks toon, and the second widest in Sony history for any film after 2004’s webslinger sequel. With no competition and solid funnyman starpower behind the mics, a strong number one bow could result. "Open Season" makes its way into 3,833 theaters and may debut with around $24M this weekend.
For those who would rather see the "Punk’d" star’s face, Buena Vista sets sail with its Coast Guard thriller "The Guardian" which finds Kutcher playing a young and cocky swimming champ who butts heads with his unorthodox teacher played by Kevin Costner. Directed by Andrew Davis ("The Fugitive," "Collateral Damage"), the PG-13 film has broad appeal with each star pulling in his respective generation. Cross-gender appeal is also present with the military-like storyline doing the job for males and the hunky actors attracting the ladies. Disney offered successful sneak previews two weeks ago to get some word-of-mouth spreading before the official debut. The studio will try to lure in the same audience that spent a solid $22.1M on the John Travolta–Joaquin Phoenix firefighter drama "Ladder 49" two autumns ago. Launching in over 3,000 theaters, "The Guardian" might debut with about $18M.
Following his commercial success with the male-driven comedy hits "Road Trip," "Old School," and "Starsky & Hutch," Todd Phillips returns to theaters with "School for Scoundrels" which finds Billy Bob Thornton squaring off against "Napoleon Dynamite"’s Jon Heder for the affection of a young gal. MGM’s PG-13 film about an awkward young misfit who enlists the help of an expert on getting the ladies should aim for an audience of teens and young adults, plus fans of the "Bad Santa" star’s rogue ways. Starpower is not very high here. Films anchored by the former Mr. Jolie usually don’t explode on opening weekend as evidenced by the recent debuts of "The Bad News Bears" ($11.4M), "The Ice Harvest" ($3.7M), and "The Alamo" ($9.1M). Competition for young males will be tough, but if "School" can connect with teen girls as a funny romantic comedy, then it has a chance of doing some respectable numbers. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "School for Scoundrels" might debut with about $12M.
Some high profile indies pop into limited release this weekend. Fox Searchlight launched its Idi Amin pic "The Last King of Scotland" in four theaters on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles and has already been receiving early Oscar buzz for Forest Whitaker‘s portrayal of the Ugandan dictator. Coincidentally, a year ago this same weekend, "Capote" debuted and fueled its own Best Actor buzz which sustained itself throughout awards season leading to a trophy for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Reviews for "Scotland" have been good and for Whitaker, have been electric.
Miramax gets its Oscar campaign going, but for the Best Actress prize, with its Helen Mirren film "The Queen" which opens in New York City on Saturday after it officially opens the New York Film Festival on Friday evening. Mirren has already taken home the top actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in the dark days after the death of Princess Diana. The PG-13 film is directed by Stephen Frears ("Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Dangerous Liaisons") and has ranked number two at the U.K. box office for the last two weeks.
First Look Studios takes audiences back to Queens in 1986 with its coming-of-age drama "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" which stars Robert Downey Jr., Chazz Palminteri, Shia LaBeouf, Dianne Wiest, Channing Tatum, and Rosario Dawson. The R-rated film won awards for Best Director and Best Ensemble at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and bows in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.
Last weekend, "Jackass: Number Two" flexed its muscles at the box office with a better-than-expected $29M launch. The Paramount film’s predecessor dropped 44% in its second weekend in the fall of 2002, but the sequel may drop harder. A 50% decline would still give the Johnny Knoxville flick about $15M for the weekend and a strong ten-day cume of $51M.
Jet Li‘s "Fearless" also drew upon a built-in audience of young men last weekend setting itself up for a sizable sophomore drop. The Focus title might also lose half of its business and take in roughly $5M. That would give the martial arts saga $18M after ten days. Sony’s "Gridiron Gang" held up well last weekend despite tough competition. Another 35% fall could be in order giving The Rock a $6M frame and a $34M total after 17 days.
LAST YEAR: For the second straight weekend, Jodie Foster‘s airline thriller "Flightplan" topped the box office with $14.8M dropping only 40% from its bow. Opening in second place was the sci-fi actioner "Serenity" which grossed $10.1M on its way to $25.4M for Universal. Warner Bros. followed close behind with $10M for its animated comedy "Corpse Bride." The revenge thriller "A History of Violence" expanded nationally and placed fourth with $8.1M and a solid $6,047 average which was the best in the whole Top 20. Opening in fifth was the Jessica-Alba-in-a-bikini pic "Into the Blue" with only $7.1M leading to a weak $18.5M final for Sony. Disney debuted its historical golf drama "The Greatest Game Ever Played" to the tune of $3.7M. A $15.3M final gross resulted.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got jive talking woodland creatures ("Open Season," with Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher). We’ve got a school for Coast Guard rescue swimmers ("The Guardian," starring Kevin Coster and Kutcher again). And we’ve got a school…for scoundrels ("School for Scoundrels," starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder). Which of these flicks will get a passing grade from critics?
"Open Season," Sony Pictures Animation’s first picture, features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher as a grizzly bear and a deer, respectively, who must team up after getting stranded in the woods at the start of hunting season. Critics say that despite some impressive visuals and funny sequences, "Open Season" does little to distinguish itself from the recent glut of CG kiddie films. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, you should turn, turn, turn away from this middling "Season."
Kevin Costner makes a hopeful return to the action genre in "The Guardian," in which he plays a veteran U.S. Coast Guard officer who must mentor a cocky young upstart played by Ashton Kutcher. The film features intense training sequences, dramatic rescue scenes, and the requisite love story. Sound familiar? Critics seem to think so, calling it a cliched mix of "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Top Gun," with a predictable storyline. At 40 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Guardian" needs rescuing.
"Oh, man… Finally, a funny ‘Waterworld‘ joke!"
Director Todd Phillips brings us his latest comedy "School for Scoundrels," about a nerdy meter maid (Jon Heder) who takes confidence building classes from a smarmy instructor (Billy Bob Thornton). When the student gains the confidence to ask out his longtime crush, he discovers he must compete with the teacher for her affections. Most critics are in agreement that the real scoundrels are the screenwriters who couldn’t devise a script worthy of the considerable acting talent involved. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, "School for Scoundrels" receives a failing grade.
Also opening this week in limited release: "The Queen," a speculative drama about the reaction of Britain’s royal family after the death of Princess Di starring Helen Mirren, is at 95 percent on the Tomatometer; "The Last King of Scotland," which features an electrifying performance from Forrest Whitaker as the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, is at 86 percent; "Be With Me," a three part meditation on love, hope, and destiny, is at 80 percent; "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," a coming-of-age story starring Robert Downey Jr., is at 77 percent; and "loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies," which chronicles the triumphant reunion tour of the influential cult band, is at 60 percent.
Director Phil Joanou and leading man Mark Wahlberg seem poised to mount a remake of Burt Reynolds‘ Sharky’s Machine, a cop-action flick from 1981. Yep, Sharky’s Machine. Raise your hand if you remember this one.
According to Variety, "Warner Bros. has tapped Phil Joanou to helm its remake of cop actioner "Sharky’s Machine" and set it up with Basil Iwanyk‘s Thunder Road to produce. Project is a potential starring vehicle for Mark Wahlberg, who is exec producing with Stephen Levinson for Leverage Management. Burt Reynolds directed and toplined the 1981 Warners pic, based on the novel by William Diehl.
Updated version will vary in places from the original and likely won’t be set in Atlanta. Story revolves around a tough homicide cop who is demoted to the lowest of the low, the morals squad. He rallies together a ragtag group of cops who successfully take down a man who rigs elections.
Big-budget movies may be playing to smaller audiences, the New York Times writes. Although domestic box office receipts are approaching $9.4 billion, which would top last year’s total, that figure may be attributable to the rise in ticket prices. While some big-budget films like "Shrek 2," "Spider-Man 2," and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" had strong showings, many others, from "Hidalgo" to "The Alamo" to "Catwoman," were disappointments to the studios. Some of the year’s most profitable films had medium-sized budgets, and some industry experts said studios may reassess the trend toward big budget effects films.