Disastrous radio interview on Wednesday, boos on Thursday and canceled shows on Friday. Last week was a busy one for Billy Bob Thornton.
Maybe the movie actor / bandleader didn’t plan it this way, but the last three days of last week are probably all Canadians will remember of the “Sling Blade” star in the weeks to come.
It started on April 8 when Thornton appeared on the CBC radio program “Q” to talk up his band’s appearances on a few Willie Nelson stops in Canada.
Evidently, Thornton had made a pre-arrangement with the program, calling for the show’s host, Jian Ghomeshi, to focus on his “musical” career with his band, The Boxmasters. At one point after Ghomeshi described Thornton as an “Oscar-winning screenwriter, actor and director,” Thornton replied, “You were instructed not to talk about (expletive) like that.”
However, when Ghomeshi tried to ask him how the band was formed, Thornton answered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
A question about the music he listened to while growing up resulted in Thornton talking about reading Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
Plus, almost all of Thornton’s responses were laced with profanity.
If Thornton thought the radio interview would eventually go away, he didn’t count on the dustup going viral, with over 600,000 watching the exchange on YouTube during the first 24 hours following the encounter.
During the radio interview Thornton also commented on the differences between Canada and U.S. audiences, saying the country’s audiences were a bit more subdued than what he and his band were used to.
“Canadian audiences seem to be very reserved. We tend to play places where people throw things at each other. Here, they just sort of sit there. And it doesn’t matter what you say to ‘em … It’s mashed potatoes but no gravy.”
Somebody should have reminded Thornton about the old proverb cautioning people to be careful about what they wish for. When the actor appeared on stage Thursday night as the opener for an evening starring Willie Nelson and Ray Price at Toronto’s Massey Hall, he was greeted by boos and shouts of “Here comes the gravy!”
By Friday Thornton and the Boxmasters were off the two remaining Canadian dates the group was scheduled to play with Nelson and Price, with the actor’s publicist claiming illness had sidelined a band member and several members of the crew.
As you can guess, Canadians weren’t exactly buying the illness line.
Or, as a Whitby, Ontario, resident wrote in a letter to the Toronto Star’s editor:
“The recent kerfuffle around Billy Bob Thornton, his interview at the CBC and his spectacle at Massey Hall shows that good luck can take you anywhere, forgetting to be grateful is just plain stupid and shutting one's mouth . . . priceless. Someone send this guy an order of humble pie with a side of gravy?”