Billy Bob Thornton 1997 Academy Awards / Actor Billy Bob Thornton arrives at the premiere of Amazon's "Goliath" at The London West Hollywood on September 29, 2016 / Billy Bob Thornton as Marshal Jim Courtright of the Paramount+ original series 1883
Photo by Stewart Cook/Getty Images / Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage / Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ (C) 2021 MTV Entertainment Studios

Billy Bob Thornton's Career in Photos: From 'Slingblade' to '1883'


It's almost hard to imagine a Hollywood without Billy Bob Thornton because he's been around for so many years. With his signature southern twang and undeniable charisma, he's got a certain charm that works everywhere from edgy dramas to sports films and comedies. He's just that good.

After dropping out of college and sustaining an injury that prohibited a professional baseball career, Thornton settled down in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming an actor. The Arkansas native spent years working odd jobs from telemarketing to fast food management while he tried to make a name for himself in Hollywood. Eventually, he received some valuable advice to pursue screenwriting. Turns out he's just as good at writing and directing as he is at acting.

Thornton has had numerous iconic roles throughout his career, and we can't wait to see him lead Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan's upcoming series Land Man. Here's a look back at Thornton's life and career in photos.


Robert Rusler, David Arquette, Billy Bob Thornton, Sean Kanan and Jay Ferguson

Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Can you even handle the nostalgia in this photo? In the next couple of years, Billy Bob would go on to appear in quite a few films -- For the Boys, Hunter's Blood, South of Reno, Going Overboard, Indecent Proposal and One False Move. He was even on a sitcom with John Ritter called Hearts Afire.


1993 - Tombstone

Billy Bob Thornton in a scene from 'Tombstone'

Screengrab via YouTube

Tombstone was stacked with Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, so you might have missed Billy Bob's small role as Johnny Tyler. He was an aspiring gambling tycoon whose business gets interrupted when the Earps come to Tombstone and clean things up.

1996 - Sling Blade

 Billy Bob Thornton 1997 Academy Awards

Photo by Stewart Cook/Getty Images

This was really a turning point in Thornton's career. He adapted his 1994 short film Some Folks Call It a Slingblade into a feature film and became an Academy Award-winning screenwriter. He also directed and starred in the movie which earned him an additional Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The film was centered around Karl Childers, a man in Arkansas who is recently released from a psychiatric facility after killing his mother years prior.

1998 - Armageddon

Billy Bob Thornton holding two model shuttles in a scene from the film 'Armageddon', 1998

Photo by Touchstone/Getty Images

It's hard to believe it's been over 20 years since NASA sent a group of drillers up to space to destroy an asteroid headed for Earth in this memorable action film. Thornton played the NASA executive who ran the ragtag mission and ultimately saved the world. The same year, Thornton also appeared in the memorable political dramedy Primary Colors.

1999 - Golden Globe Awards

Billy Bob Thornton & Laura Dern during The 56th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Photo by KMazur/WireImage

Remember when Billy Bob and Laura Dern were engaged? It was right before he started dating his Pushing Tin co-star Angelina Jolie. At the 1999 Golden Globes, Thornton received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for A Simple Plan.


2000 - All the Pretty Horses

Matt Damon & Billy Bob Thornton & Penelope Cruz during "All the Pretty Horses" New York Premiere

Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage

You might not have realized it at the time, but Thornton actually produced and directed this western film which starred Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz.

2001 - Monster's Ball

Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton in a scene from the film 'Monster's Ball', 2001

Photo by Lions Gate Films/Getty Images

2001 was a busy year for Billy Bob! He wrote/directed and starred in Daddy and Them, starred in the hilarious comedy Bandits, and appeared in the Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There. One of his most memorable performances of the year was as a corrections officer who begins a relationship with the window of one of the men he executed. He starred opposite Halle Berry who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance.

2002 - The Angelina Jolie Era

Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton during 'Tomb Raider' London Premiere

Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic

2002 was in the midst of Thornton's whirlwind Angelina Jolie romance. The world will never forget these two or the vials of each other's blood they wore. After they called it quits in 2003, he settled down with his current wife Connie Angland in 2014 and they've been together ever since.

2003 - Bad Santa 

Billy Bob Thornton wearing a Santa Claus suit in a scene from 'Bad Santa'

Screengrab via YouTube

Apparently, 2003 was the year of Christmas movies. In addition to playing the world's worst Santa Claus Willie Soke in Bad Santa (and later Bad Santa 2), he also cameos in Love Actually as the creepy President of the United States.


Not to mention he appeared in the Coen Brother comedy Intolerable Cruelty. A George Clooney gem if you haven't seen it.

2004 - Friday Night Lights

Billy Bob Thornton in a scene from 'Friday Night Lights'

Screengrab via YouTube

Who could forget the movie that led to the greatest high school football TV show of all time? Widely beloved as one of the best high school sports films ever made, Thornton starred as football coach Gary Gaines who leads his team to the state championship.

The man never slows down. This was the same year he played Davy Crockett in The Alamo, one of the most memorable moments in Texas history.

2005 - Bad News Bears

Billy Bob Thornton in a scene from 'Bad News Bears'

Screengrab via YouTube

Who better to play Morris Buttermaker in this remake of the 1976 classic? Thornton was perfect as the alcoholic former baseball player who gets hired to coach a children's team.


2007 - The Astronaut Farmer

Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton during Warner Bros. Pictures World Premiere of "The Astronaut Farmer"

Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage for Warner Bros

Thornton starred in this memorable film as a former astronaut in training who never got to fulfill his dreams. Now a farmer, he attempts to build a rocket in his barn that is capable of taking him up to space. It's definitely Billy Bob's superior film from 2007; Mr. Woodcock mostly got negative reviews.

2008 - The Informers

Billy Bob Thornton attends a CD signing for the new Boxmasters album at J&R Music and Computer World on August 18, 2008 in New York City

Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis directed Thornton in The Informers and he also starred in the thriller Eagle Eye in 2008.

2012 - Jayne Mansfield's Car

Writer/director/actor Billy Bob Thornton arrives at the premiere of 'Jayne Mansfield's Car' during the 2012 Austin Film Festival

Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage

Another film written/directed/starring Billy Bob! The film follows a family of World War I and World War II veterans living in the south in the 1960s.

2014 - Fargo

Billy Bob Thornton in a scene from the TV series 'Fargo'

Screengrab via YouTube

Thornton starred in the first season of the television series adaptation of the Coen Brothers' 1996 film.


2016- Goliath

Actor Billy Bob Thornton arrives at the premiere of Amazon's "Goliath" at The London West Hollywood on September 29, 2016

Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage

For four seasons, Thornton starred in this Amazon series as Billy McBride, a down-and-out lawyer who is looking for redemption. The role earned Thornton a Golden Globe for Best Actor in 2017.

2018 - A Million Little Pieces

Billy Bob Thornton attends the special screening of Momentum Pictures' "A Million Little Pieces"

Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images

Billy Bob appeared in this film adaptation of James Frey's best-selling novel about his experience in rehab in his early 20s. Thornton plays Leonard, a man he meets at the rehab clinic who becomes like a father/figure.

2021 - 1883

Billy Bob Thornton as Marshal Jim Courtright of the Paramount+ original series 1883

Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2021 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

It was a brief appearance, but Thornton had a small role in the Yellowstone prequel series 1883 as the Fort Worth Sheriff. He had a seriously cool shoot-out scene at the local saloon too.

READ MORE: Taylor Sheridan's New Show 'Land Man' is Based on a Podcast about the West Texas Oil Boom

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