Billy Bob Thornton Reflects on How Robert Redford Helped His Acting Career

by Lauren Boisvert

Billy Bob Thornton has had a wildly successful career as an actor, director, musician, and writer. Sam Elliott calls him a “powerful” actor, and he’s had so many great roles over the years. He got started a little later in life, as he was in his 40s when he found fame with his movie “Sling Blade” in 1996. He was working on projects before that, though, and one caught the eye of legendary actor Robert Redford.

In a recent interview with People, Thornton spoke about a moment he had with Redford put him on the right track. He struggled financially when he first started acting. But when he began landing small roles and getting paid for them, he decided to stick with the acting thing. Thornton had a small part in Adrian Lyne’s “Indecent Proposal” in 1993 alongside Robert Redford, Woody Harrelson, and Demi Moore. The year before, Thornton had made his directorial debut with “One False Move.”

“I was in scene in a movie that Robert Redford starred in [‘Indecent Proposal’],” Thornton shared. “During a break, he came up to me and said, ‘This is an amazing article.’ He was holding a publication with an article praising ‘One False Move.’ He said, ‘This is a great film. You have a career because of this. People are going to sit up and take notice.'”

Billy Bob Thornton then explained that at that moment, Robert Redford gave him some sage life advice. “But then he said, ‘Here’s what you don’t do. Now that you’ve done this, don’t take the next big [film]. Do these kinds of movies and take supporting roles, and then do your own thing before you take a big movie.’ And he was right because a few years later we made ‘Sling Blade.'”

Billy Bob Thornton Listened to Robert Redford in 1993, and Has an Amazing Career Because of It

When I think of Billy Bob Thornton, I think of two things. One, his voice work on the English dub of the Studio Ghibli movie “Princess Mononoke.” And two, Angelina Jolie wearing his blood in a vial around her neck. But, as for his career, Billy Bob Thornton has found even more success in recent years. He starred in Netflix’s “The Gray Man” alongside Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans recently. He has also found success with Taylor Sheridan-led projects.

Thornton had a guest role as Marshal Jim Courtright on Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” prequel “1883.” Now, Sheridan has cast him as the lead in a new series called “Land Man.” The Paramount+ series is based on a podcast called “Boomtown,” which focused on West Texas oil towns and covered everything from sex work to oil money. It seems like Taylor Sheridan is dipping his toe into every industry in America that has the slightest bit of corruption: “Yellowstone” with the ranching business, “Mayor of Kingstown” and the prison industrial complex, and now “Land Man” with oil.