You've been in bands since you were in high school, right? Did that have any effect on your wanting to be an actor?

Not really. The actor thing kind of happened — almost a fluke, really. My buddy Tom Epperson, who wrote several screenplays with me — we wrote The Gift and A Family Thing and a couple of other things — well, we wrote about 25 things together, but most of them were never made. Tom was going to go to California. He was four years older than me and as a young man was already a teacher at the University of Arkansas, an English teacher, and he said, "I want to go out to California and try to be a screenwriter — you were in drama, why don't you go out and try to be an actor?" I was shoveling asphalt for the highway department at the time, playing music on the weekends, didn't have much, so I said, "Yeah, OK, I'll go."

But I was really going with the intention of getting in a band in California. That's what I went for, really. The only reason I was in drama in high school is because there were chicks in there and I thought I could get above a grade of C in something. So I went out there with him and I got in this theater group and an acting class, and I was discovered out of that theater group. I just had to go with what I was making a meager living out of.

Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters: "The whole idea behind the band [was] to sound like a '60s band."
Myriam Santos
Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters: "The whole idea behind the band [was] to sound like a '60s band."


7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 7. Bottleneck Blues Bar at the Ameristar Casino, 1 Ameristar Boulevard, St. Charles. $30 to $35. 877-444-2637. Also playing acoustic at 5:30 p.m. at Vintage Vinyl, 6610 Delmar Boulevard, University City. Free. 314-721-4096.

Who are a couple of your favorite musician-turned-actors?

I'd say the best two examples would be Levon Helm and Kris Kristofferson.

Good ones.

I mean, those were definitely role models for me.

I just saw something Levon Helm was in. Is from the approximate same part of Arkansas as you?

He's about an hour and a half away, something like that. He was raised a little closer to the Delta; I was a little closer to the middle of the state. But, you know, when you're over there, everything's pretty close. You're not very far away from anybody.

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