Billy Bob Thornton is making his return to the small screen in the FX mini-series “Fargo,” which is based on the acclaimed 1996 movie. The 58-year-old actor and musician spoke to FOX411 about his new gig, his music and how he’s really just a homebody at heart.
FOX411: Tell us about “Fargo.”
Billy Bob Thornton: They sent me the script and I loved it. Noah Hawley managed to write a pilot script that captured the tone and the vibe of the Coen brothers and the same spirit as the movie and yet make it its own animal. I wasn’t looking to get into a TV series that might last for six or seven years because I haven’t given up on movies. Some think people think it’s dead but I have hope. I thought, “This could be good, and in 10 episodes it’s over,” and so in a lot of ways it was like making a 10 hour independent film.
I play Lorne Malvo who is sort of like the God and devil of this universe. He’s a contract killer who has this very dark sense of humor. He likes to mess with his victims; he smells weakness and doesn’t respect it. Guys like him, they come more from the animal kingdom than the human one.
FOX411: Haven’t you met guys like that in Hollywood?
Thornton: (Laughs) Oh yes absolutely, no question. There’s a psychology behind people like that to think that they’re not really wrong. It’s part of the job. It’s just a really interesting character and I loved it. I probably played it a little more silently than it was written.
FOX411: Is it getting harder for you to get movies made?
Thornton: Absolutely, or at least the kind of movies I want to make.
FOX411: You were in some blockbusters. Do you still get offered big budget movies?
Thornton: I do get offered them. I’m in my 50s now so I don’t get offered Batman. I get offered the Mayor.
FOX411: Do you want to do that?
Thornton: It depends on the movie. I’m not a movie snob where I think all commercial movies are horrible. If I got offered one that really appealed to me, sure I’d do it.
FOX411: You’re from Arkansas. Does it bother you the way the South is portrayed on film and TV?
Thornton: For the most part, it’s a shame. There’s always been a slight prejudice against the South, actually not slight. I was trying to be kind. There’s always been a prejudice about the South and Southerners in movies because they are portrayed as bigots. Generally they’re cartoon characters and when they do romantic comedies about the South, they use that broad accent and all the women are these catty, Southern belles. It’s just kind of silly.
FOX411: How is your music going?
Thornton: We’re going into the recording studio again at the end of the month. We parted ways with our label a couple of years ago. There are two or three labels that want to sign us now so we are figuring out the details and what works best. We’re not out to sell hundreds of thousands of records. We have a cult following and we really just kind of cater to them. But we’ve got 10 albums in the can. We just keep recording. I can’t not write songs. It’s impossible.
FOX411: Do you think the band would be bigger if there wasn’t a backlash against actors who record?
Thornton: Yeah, sure. It’s a lot less these days. We’ve turned out seven albums so I don’t get it as much as I used to but there’s still a stigma. I can’t help it. I started out in music. For some reason if you’re an actor, you’re excluded by birth or something. It’s kind of silly.
FOX411: Aren’t you glad there wasn’t social media around when you were married to Angelina
Thornton: Oh yeah, it would be way worse. It’s impossible to have any privacy these days.
FOX411: We never read about you unless you’re promoting something.
Thornton: That’s right, that’s exactly when I’m in the public eye, when I’m working and have something to promote. The rest of the time I’m not out there. I don’t really participate in the Hollywood scene. My friends are mostly people I came up with in the early days, most of them aren’t famous. I have only a handful of actor friends, a lot of acquaintances but not people I see on a regular basis. I have probably more musician friends frankly so yeah I’m not out there. I stay home.