Actor Billy Bob Thornton may have an Oscar and a number of other prestigious honors, but you won't catch him using silver utensils at any of the fancy awards dinners.
Thornton said he and his character in his new film, Monster's Ball have a strange habit in common — they both prefer plastic spoons. Thornton told ABCNEWS' Charlie Gibson that he has a few phobias, one of which prevents him from eating with silver. Read the entire unedited transcript from Thornton's interview on Good Morning America below.
ABCNEWS' CHARLIE GIBSON: Our next guest arrived in Hollywood 20 years ago, and it took 15 of those years before he made it. But, boy, did he make it. Billy Bob Thornton has been making up for lost time ever since. An Oscar, as you know, for writing Sling Blade, an Oscar-winning wife, Angelina Jolie, and now, there is Oscar talk again for him. Tonight, on the heels of two best actor Golden Globe nominations, he's in New York to receive best actor honors from the prestigious National Board of Review for no less than three movies that have come out in the last three months alone. And Thornton is joining us now. It's a pleasure to have you here. Nice to see you again.
BILLY BOB THORNTON: Thanks. You, too.
GIBSON: This movie that we want to talk about today, "Monster's Ball," is really interesting. Halle Berry in it with you. And it's really the story about a man who goes through an extraordinary transition, metamorphosis …
GIBSON: … on the subject of race.
Mm — hmm. And what was the — really, the hardest part of playing it was, the fact that the transformation for the audience only seems like from here to here.
GIBSON: Mm — hmm.
THORNTON: But for a guy like him, it's from a here to here. You know, it's a——it's a very——you know, it seems like a very subtle transformation, you know, to the audience, and yet, for a person like that to change at all is huge. Yeah, so …
GIBSON: Yes, it's a — it's an enormous change. We of — actually, so often we have clips that——that really, we sort of have to throw in, and they don't mean anything, but this is a——a clip I'm going to show you, a——a scene with Thornton's character. He's just been with his father who has just issued a spew of racial epithets. And then he comes out because there are two young African-American boys on his property. Take a look at this clip.
(Clip from Monster's Ball)
GIBSON: Just a brief shot there of Peter Boyle who plays your father.
GIBSON: And Heath Ledger who plays your son.
GIBSON: Did you grow up in that kind of a life?
THORNTON: Yeah. Yeah, I did. I mean, in a lot of ways, the characters in this movie, Peter Boyle reminds me very much of one of my grandfathers. And the character that I played, in a way, my father. Because my father wasn't really a bad guy, you know, but he, you know, had things passed on to him.
GIBSON: In Arkansas …
THORNTON: Yeah, in Arkansas.
GIBSON: … you grew up.
GIBSON: You saw it in restaurants?
THORNTON: I saw it everywhere.
GIBSON: In movies?
THORNTON: I mean, the thing is, you know, people think that segregation was a million years ago. But, I mean, it was in my lifetime. Not that I'm not a million years old, but, I actually remember as a kid, you know, separate drinking fountains and everything.
THORNTON: When we went to the doctor's office, it had two entrances. It had colored only and white only. And that's what it said. That's what the signs said.
GIBSON: So if it's in your grandfather and, to some extent, in your pop, why isn't it—what is it that breaks that cycle?
THORNTON: Well, I think for myself and my brothers, we were raised at a time in the '60s when rebellion was the thing. I mean, you were rebelling sort of against your parents, you sort of didn't want to be what your parents were. And we were both into music. We were in bands, my brother and I, so, you know, we—we sort of wanted to be in the Buffalo Springfield or something. You know, that's what we were thinking about.
GIBSON: Yeah. Right.
THORNTON: Our — we actually, I think, fortunately, were raised in that time of rebellion, and I think we kind of went against what my dad wants.
GIBSON: Well, that's true. The '60s was an era when you had to throw everything out anyway.
GIBSON: And — and that was certainly on the way out by itself. But this is a character who has to go from what we saw there, at the beginning of the movie, to being in love with the character played by Halle Berry.
GIBSON: A transition that's tough to show, as you mentioned, to an audience in two hours.
THORNTON: Yeah. Well, I mean, part of it is, the director——a big part of it——the director, Marc Forster who is actually from Switzerland, you know, didn't——want's raised in any sort of environment like I was at all. He really got it. He got the story, and he knew that this movie was going to have to take its time. He knew that that transition was going to have to take its time. And we do have a scene in the middle of the movie where we start talking about our——our sons.
GIBSON: And that was the connection.
THORNTON: And that …
GIBSON: Her son, who's died, and your son, who's died …
GIBSON: … as well.
THORNTON: And during that, he let us actually talk about that until we were through. And directors usually don't let you do that, you know.
THORNTON: And I think that's — that's really what makes it work is the fact that he let us develop that scene.
GIBSON: Well, all the time in the movie, you're going out to get chocolate ice cream …
THORNTON: Yeah, that's right.
GIBSON: … which you eat with a plastic spoon.
GIBSON: Where——where's the chocolate ice cream? Oh, here it is. There we go. I want you to——I want you to feel at home, here (gives Thornton bowl of ice-cream).
THORNTON: Oh, thank you very much.
GIBSON: With the plastic spoon. When Halle Berry says, `With a plastic spoon,' right, you say, `Yeah, you got it.'
THORNTON: Well, here's the deal with the plastic spoon. Two things. Two things about — you know, I hate to, like, you know, bust myself here, but it's actually tofutti in the movie because I'm allergic to dairy.
THORNTON: And the plastic spoon thing, I —: I have some well-known, very publicized phobias and things.
THORNTON: One of those is I can't eat with silver and so …
GIBSON: OK. If you can't eat the dairy …
THORNTON: Go right ahead.
GIBSON: I'll put it down.
THORNTON: Here you go.
GIBSON: Thanks very much. We'll be back.
THORNTON: Thank you very much.