A few words from Billy Bob Thornton on movie violence

Like the heroin-addicted cop he plays in “Faster,” the aggressive new thriller in which he co-stars opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton rarely minces words. So when he volunteers an assessment of American movies today, you can expect nothing less than brutal candor.

“We’re living in a time where we’re making the worst movies in history,” says Thornton, 55, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and star of 1997’s “Sling Blade,” which he directed.

“They’re geared toward the video game generation. These games — which I’m on my son about constantly — are people killing for fun,” he says. “Traditionally in movies, there’s always been some lesson in violence. Even in Sam Peckinpah’s movies — I think that, inadvertently, Peckinpah created ‘Faster’ and a lot of others — the violence is grounded in a morality tale. Showing violence just for the sake of it, I don’t believe in that.”

The difference, he says, between “Faster” — in which Johnson is driven to kill the gangsters who murdered his brother — and films that glamorize violence is that here there are consequences. No character is unaffected by Johnson’s descent into the moral abyss, and that, Thornton says, is how it should be.

Despite his sometimes-strained relationship with the media, particularly at times where his bluntness has backfired, Thornton says he enjoys speaking about “Faster” because it represents an anomaly in today’s marketplace — a story made the old-fashioned way.

“This movie did not rely on computers,” he says. “It’s kind of like a ’70s movie — if we’re chasing each other down a hallway, it’s a hallway. We’ve done something real here. Most movies are about vampires in 3-D or war eagles, whatever they are. When you’re an actual actor and you get to do something real, it’s nice to talk about it.”

Thornton is not the most reticent celebrity, and he does not want to be. All he asks is that his words not be distorted.

“When we make a movie, it’s good to be able to say, ‘Hey, good to see you’ without being stuck in the [butt],” he says. “There are guys who will not do a movie for three years, won’t talk to anybody, hate the fans and won’t sign your kid’s thing, and [writers] just love ’em anyway.

<p>“I might say a few too many things, but I’m trying, I will sign your kid’s thing, and I’ll tell you what I think about that chick, or any chick. The fans are the people who allow my kids to go to school and help pay for the house.

“If we’re going to be honest and forthcoming, [the writers] owe us not to twist what we say just because I said something bad about cats and you happen to like cats. It’s that simple.”

IF YOU GO

Faster

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace, Carla Gugino
Written by Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton
Directed by George Tillman Jr.
Rated R
Running time 1 hour 38 minutes

artsentertainmentFasterMoviesSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Lakeshore Elementary School was closed in March shortly before SFUSD closed all schools due to coronavirus concerns. The district is now working to prepare all elementary schools to reopen by mid-January.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
School district preparing buildings for hybrid learning

SFUSD plans to use 72 elementary schools and 12 early education sites for first phase of reopening

There have been at least 142 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among workers at San Francisco International Airport. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Supes back SFO worker healthcare legislation despite airline, business opposition

Costs of ‘Health Airport Ordinance’ in dispute, with estimates ranging from $8.4 M to $163 M annually

Thankfully, playgrounds that were closed due to the pandemic during the summer have reopened.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
The perils of parenting, COVID-style

At long last, it’s OK to take your little one out to play

Ten candidates are running for a seat on the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Community College District.. (Courtesy photos)
Strong leadership needed as City College faces multiple crises

Ten candidates vying for four seats on CCSF board

City officials closed San Francisco County Jail No. 4 on the top floor of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. in September, reducing the number of beds in the jail system by about 400. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner
SF jail closure prompts doctor to call for release of more inmates

Reduced space increases risk of COVID-19 spreading among those in custody

Most Read