Being an actor you are constantly required to travel, but I’ve read in numerous magazines and newspapers that you, like myself, have a slight fear of flying. How great is that fear now, in light of recent events? ^ You know, as usual I am sort of backwards from everybody else. I’m not afraid of flying now. That’s weird, but right I know I feel just a little safer just because people are more aware of it. What I wonder about though is, since they are finding out now all these things that have been going on over the years with terrorists, how many times have we all been on an airplane when terrorists were checking out the situation, who were basically practicing? It could have happened to all of us, and it probably has.
Where were you on September 11 when the terrorist attacks happened? ^ My wife and I were in Japan when it happened, she was promoting Tomb Raider and I was promoting my new record, and we were stuck there for a few days. We finally got a flight out on United, and of course United was one of the airlines, and we had a nine and a half-hour flight back. It’s so funny though because you are kind of thinking that at any minute something could happen, but at the same time when we are together I don’t really worry. It was fine though. I listened to the Allman Brothers, we talked and made plans for Christmas.
Out of curiosity, what was in the in-flight movie? ^ We watched 102 Dalmatians.
Since you and your wife were in Japan on September 11, how did you hear about the terrorist attacks? ^ We actually saw it on CNN. They had the international version of CNN over there and the BBC news.
What feelings rushed through your mind when you found out? ^ It was like watching something that you weren’t sure was even real. I remember one time watching this movie, I think it was on PBS years and years ago, about a nuclear attack called “The Day After.” I was in the dessert working on a movie and I walked into this little motel room, turned on the TV and that was on and I thought it was real. It’s like that Orson Welles thing. I just freaked out. I called my mother and then I just realized it was a movie and not the real thing. So with this I just kept thinking that maybe this is not real. I mean I knew it was, but at the same time in the back of my head I kept thinking, ‘God, this can’t be real. Am I dreaming here?’ And then we were stuck in Japan for a few days and my kids were here… it was just a very strange feeling. But frankly everybody says– like people here in L.A. for instance, nothing horrible has really happened here– but everybody says ‘how are you doing?’ and ‘I’m getting by,’ but really we’re not there where it all happened. So I feel a little bit guilty when somebody asks me how I am doing because I haven’t been personally affected by it. So I feel guilty, sort of like crying in my beer about it. I feel a lot of sadness for the people who are actually effected directly right now though. Let’s move on to Bandits.
When I talked to Barry Levinson (the director) earlier today he mentioned that you really weren’t too far away from the neurotic character you play in the film. How much of Terry Collins really is Billy Bob Thornton? ^ Once he (Levinson) found out that I wasn’t too far away from this character, he said, ‘oh good!’ (Laughs) Really though, I do have a few of my own phobias in there, like the fear of antique furniture. There were some others that were scripted that I already had, but I think everybody has one of them, the fear of clowns. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have that. I mean mimes are really creepy, but clowns are frightening.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of BILLY BOB THORNTON UNDREssED>>>