Billy Bob Thornton tussles with radio host

It’s every journalist’s nightmare: an interview with a star that goes horribly wrong. In an interview Wednesday morning in Toronto, Canada, on the CBC radio show Studio Q, Billy Bob Thornton refused to answer questions posed to him by the show’s host, Jian Ghomeshi, and then, when confronted by Ghomeshi, lectured the host on how to do his job. Thornton — on tour with his band The Boxmasters promoting their third album this year, Mod Billy — took offense that Ghomeshi mentioned Thornton’s film career during the introduction for the show. It’s unclear why this was such a terrible transgression, but from that point on, Thornton evaded or ignored Ghomeshi’s questions. When asked about his band being together for only two years, Thornton responded: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And then, when asked the question more directly, he said, “I don’t know what you mean.” It went downhill from there. The band is currently on tour with Willie Nelson, but when Ghomeshi asked Thornton, “What do you learn from Willie Nelson?” Thornton responded: “I’ve never met him.” The tension built to a confrontation, with Thornton telling Ghomeshi that the host was “instructed not to discuss” Thornton’s film career. Ghomeshi respectfully tried to resolve the situation and move on, but to little effect. At the end of the segment, when the band was supposed to play a track from their album, Thornton said the band would be performing without him because he didn’t bring his drums. He soon afterward stood up and walked out of the studio.

What’s particularly odd about this incident is that Thornton, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for Sling Blade and was once married to Angelina Jolie, is typically one the best interviews around — funny, engaging, a born storyteller and willing to psychoanalyze himself (and his costars) on the record. Given that, there’s already speculation floating around the web that Thornton was under the influence for this interview. His spokesman, Arnold Robinson, says that is flatly untrue. “Billy Bob clearly just had an issue with the guy,” Robinson says. Robinson confirms that while it’s true Thornton does not like to be asked about his movie career while he’s out promoting his band, Ghomeshi was never “instructed” to avoid the topic. “Bottom line: We don’t tell people what questions they can or cannot ask,” Robinson says. Apparently, Thornton just wasn’t in the best mood this morning, but he doesn’t seem to have had a change of heart in the hours since. When asked if there were any apologies or group hugs after the segment, Robinson laughs. “I don’t think so, no.” See the entire interview below, and read more on EW’s Music Mix.

Comments (179 total) Add your comment
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  • Tom

    Billy Bob is an idiot. CBC Radio is highly respected here in Canada, and for Q to give them such airtime was quite a feat. But BBT showed how ungrateful he was. Even worse, he embarrassed his band members.

  • Catherine

    I would love to know what Billy Bob’s bandmates thought of his little temper tantrum. What a horror show. I hope he gets booed off the stage in Toronto.

  • genifur


  • Ellen

    What the heck??? To the rest of the band’s credit, they kept going. If Thornton only wanted the interview to be about the music, he only succeeded roundly in making the whole thing about him. It seemed perfectly reasonable to mention to the audience that a member of the band was a well-known actor, and the interviewer seemed to know his stuff. Incredibly, I still managed to glean enough from the interview that I am interested in listening to the band’s music.

  • Leo

    I think there would be quite the argument among the band afterwards. They looked humiliated, angry, awkward, and tried to fill in for him for a little while – then just let Jiad and Billy Bob get to the meat of the problem. I doubt he was drunk – maybe cracked out – but mainly just an arrogant SOB who also insulted Canadians, Willie Nelson, and every other artist out there other than their band.

  • Jeff

    I listened to the live interview this morning. What a tool. My sincere condolences go out to his bandmates. I hope his Toronto audience gives him all of the thrown objects he’s asked for and more — that is, if anyone shows up at all. My respect for host Jian Ghomeshi just shot up by an order of magnitude or two.

  • doreen

    Billy Bob, First of all he should grow up. After that he should remember to keep his day job. (acting ) I have heard his band on a What a laugh! Congrats to the radio host for keeping his cool. Potatoes are better without loud mouthed gravy.

  • marion erskine

    Looks like Billy Bob is either an idiot, high, or this was a promotional stunt.
    How about all the above?
    A buzzed out idiot doing a promo for his band. Seems to have worked because I’ve never paid attention to the boxcars..or who ever they are, until now.

  • Mike

    I definitely think he’s under the influence. He looks less annoyed by the questions and more genuinely clueless.

  • Mike

    A prime example of a man letting his ego and self-involvement hurt those around him – and apparently not caring at all. He should be ashamed of his behavior.

  • karen

    he was so drunk or on drugs. his eyes look bloodshot and he just looks wasted.

  • Big Mac

    A total jerk. Did MEGA damage to his “group”. Hope those other boys have another gig lined up, without “Mr. I’m Wonderful, And the Rest Of The World Doesn’t Get It”. Billy Boy (and I stress BOY) needs to get on the couch with Farah, Joaquin and the rest of the weirdos from Glitter Gulch.

  • Rita

    he was such a jerk!!

  • abdul omar

    never heard of this idiot before. obviously he thinks he is something special. i didn’t see it. if his act was not influenced by some kind of drugs…i think people should just not bother with his types. was he such a bad actor that he doesn’t want it mentioned? as i said…had never heard of him before and i wished i had never watched that u tube clip. feel sorry for his pals who tried their best to make up for this idiots arrogance.

  • Hellyes

    I can’t think of a more overrated career than Billy Boobs. Promo stunt or not I would be happy to never see or hear about or from that plastic Hollywood abortion. If his band underlings had any integrity they wouldve told him to lighten up for their sake. I love Willie Nelson so I just wouldn’t see the opening act. Better yet I’d love to give Mr.T some mashed taters express. Good gravy!

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