“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” Shakespeare wrote. Billy Bob Thornton couldn’t agree more.
“I always say that I don’t know exactly what I believe, so I kind of believe in anything,” says the Arkansas-bred Renaissance man, who bringshis folk-rock act to San Francisco tonight.
Thornton once penned a screenplay about his professional-psychic mother, which morphed into the creepy Cate Blanchett movie “The Gift.”
He says, “I’m not opposed to science at all, but I think that sometimes human beings can be really arrogant about what we know, and to think that we know everything is just crazy. We only use 5 percent of our brains, so God knows what else is in there.”
Hence, the several specters he’s bumped ectoplasmic shoulders with throughout his life, such as the female spirit that haunts his current circa-1920s Hollywood home.
“I live in a constant state of feeling ghosts,” he sighs. “I’m one of those people who can go into a Civil War cemetery and just get vibes like you wouldn’t believe.”
He also recently caught a whiff of deja vu, visiting a war museum. “My cousin is a past-life regressionist, and the era that I’m connected to the most is World War II,” the 52-year-old continues.
“So I went on a B-17 bomber in that museum, and I knew everything about it. I knew the whole cockpit layout, even knew where I sat — I was a bombardier, and I knew just how to get down in the nose of that plane, even though I’d never been on one before.”
Thornton may be known for starring roles in offbeat comedies like “Bad Santa” and the upcoming “Mr. Woodcock,” which pits him as a sadistic high school gym coach against a chipper self-help guru. But his extracurricular work has always had an otherworldly streak, such as “Sling Blade,” which earned him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Or “Beautiful Door,” his fourth solo album (for UMe), which opens with a few haunted yarns sung in Thornton’s seasoned drawl.
He says, “The first song, ‘It’s Just Me,’ is about a guy who commits suicide over jealousy and ends up living inside the person he’s killed himself over. And the next song, ‘Restin’ Your Soul,’ istold from the other person’s perspective — the one who’s left behind.”
Thornton’s next release is a double CD under the moniker of his band, the Boxmasters, who’ll be opening the Slim’s show.
“The first set is us playing hillbilly music, and the second is the big rock show,” he promises.
Thornton’s mother is equally busy. She employs a standard ESP deck, and still holds regular readings.
“But not like she used to … It used to be a constant thing, and our living room was like a doctor’s office; we had magazines on the coffee table and everything,” he says. “But the problem with that kind of ability, or ‘gift,’ is that you kind of know things you don’t always want to know about. And I’ll tell you one thing — it damn sure made it hard to sneak in the door at night when you’d been out drinking!”
Billy Bob Thornton
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Contact: (415) 255-0333 or www.slims-sf.com