I’ve always felt an odd kinship with Fargo’s Billy Bob Thornton because he was born and raised in a town in Arkansas about 25 miles away from where I grew up, and because his Oscar-winning film Slingblade was actually filmed in my hometown (in fact, my mother stayed in the same psychiatric hospital in which Thornton’s character lived in Slingblade). Thornton is a weird guy, and some of his experiences in life are not that dissimilar to the experiences of the kind of Arkansans I grew up with, save for one thing: Billy Bob Thornton is a famous actor.
In addition to his much publicized marriage to Angelina Jolie, Thornton has also revealed himself a prick. If you’ve never heard it, in a 2009 interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., he was so outright awful and obnoxious that some thought it was a hoax. It was not. He’s just a dick. But a talented one, for sure, and his character in FX’s Fargo — sort of the Minnesota version of Anton Chigurh — is absolutely brilliant, one of the coolest, coldest bad-ass villains on television.
Still, the guy is super weird. Here are 10 unusual things about Billy Bob Thornton that you may not know.
1. His mother was a psychic. She once predicted Thornton would work with Burt Reynolds, a prediction that would come true when Thornton was in three episodes of Evening Shade.
2. He was a good enough baseball player in high school to try out for the Kansas City Royals, but he was let go after an injury.
3. While serving as a waiter in Los Angeles, he got some very good advice from a customer to turn to screenwriting, which convinced him to write Slingblade, which would later earn him an Oscar for Best Screenplay. That customer? Legendary director Billy Wilder, who thought that Thornton was too ugly to be an actor.
4. Thornton has been married five times, and he has four children with three different women. One of those marriages, obviously, was Angelina Jolie, but he also has two children with former Playboy model Pietra Dawn Cherniak (who would later divorce him and accuse him of spousal abuse).
5. During his struggling years as an actor, he was admitted into the hospital for a heart condition brought upon by malnutrition because all he could afford to eat were potatoes.
6. Billy Bob Thornton suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder.
7. He has some really, really weird phobias: He’s scared of antique furniture and silver, as in spoons and forks made of real silver. He’s generally just creeped the f**k out by old stuff.
8. His cousins are professional wrestling legends, Terry Funk and Dory Funk, Jr., i.e. the Funk Brothers.
9. His contracts include riders that insist he always have a television with access to St. Louis Cardinals games.
10. Billy Bob’s estranged daughter was convicted and sentenced in 2011 to 20 years in prison for the death of a neighbor’s baby.