Billy Bob Thornton on 'Bandits'

ByABC News via via logo

N E W   Y O R K, Oct. 16, 2001 -- "Strange" is a word that has often been used to describe Billy Bob Thornton, the actor known for his breakout performance as the childlike killer in Sling Blade, and for his and wife Angelina Jolie's practice of wearing vials of each other's blood around their necks.

In his new movie Bandits, which came in second place in its opening this weekend, the 46-year-old actor doesn't disappoint: he plays a bank robber with a phobia for antiques.

Thornton, who wrote, directed and won a Best Screenplay Oscar for Sling Blade, says he's just a normal guy from Oklahoma, with two poodles and a fondness for Match Game reruns. He seems unaffected by his star status.

But he admits to having a lot of fears, including hypochondria (he sometimes calls himself the hillbilly Woody Allen).

"I'm not exactly the perfect guy to give the Merck Manual [the medical journal] because I will end up with all sorts of things," Thornton said. "One time I had a fear for a year. My brother told me about a worm that grows in your body. I had a fear of that for months and months … even though they don't even have those things here."

Fear of Furniture

Thornton also admits to having the same fear as his character in Bandits. In real life, Thornton is afraid of old furniture, and particular styles can set off his fear.

"In certain countries, like Asia, I can eat off the floor, but France? Those big gold carved things with velvet — can't do it," Thornton said.

He's glad his comic caper movie is coming out now, when America can use a laugh, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

At the same time, he would like to see America remain both united and wary.

"I hope the way we have united keeps up," Thornton said, "and we don't let our guard down any more, and that we don't ignore what's going on in the world any more because it bit us right in the ass."

His Only True Marriage

Thorton says the events of Sept. 11 have not helped another of his phobias, his fear of flying. He has been trying to overcome that fear in order to see more of his wife of one and a half years, Angelina Jolie, who is 20 years his junior.

The 26-year-old Jolie has said that she'd kill Thornton if he cheated on her. He takes her declaration seriously, though he says he would never cheat.

"Well, she doesn't have to worry about it... but she does mean it," Thornton said. "It is not a possibility and she knows it."

The reason he is so sure, he says, is that he feels like the marriage to Jolie is different from his previous four marriages.

"This time's the only time. I have never truly been married to anyone before," Thornton said. In fact, he married Jolie not once, but twice. "We'll keep getting married... at least once a year," Thornton said. "We may do it again in December."

After a quick marriage in Las Vegas, Thornton and Jolie wanted to hold a more elegant affair, so they married again, in their home.

He Calls It Puppy Love

The couple's unconventional ways of expressing their devotion have raised some eyebrows.

For their anniversary, Jolie bought side-by-side grave plots in Arkansas. The couple wear lockets filled with each other's blood, and have tattooed each other's names all over their bodies. Thornton has removed the names of other women from his body.

If people saw such expressions of devotion in a movie, they would think it was romantic, but seeing it in real life, they think it is weird, Thornton said. He does not think it is weird, he added.

Thornton, whose first love is music, has been in bands for years. He is soon coming out with a solo album, Private Radio, that includes an ode to his wife titled "Angelina."

The press' portrayal of the two of them against the world has been tough, but a year and a half into the marriage, the couple are very much in love, Thornton says.

"The best way in which to describe it is: you know when you have a puppy and it's at that stage that it's so adorable and you can't stand it," Thornton said. "You have the dog and you're like, 'Good grief, look at you! Look at his nose, little ears.' We feel like that 24 hours a day."

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