Billy Bob Thornton on Being Famous and Family
Billy Bob Thornton is no stranger to the spotlight. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award, four Golden Globes and three Screen Actors Guild Awards and starred in several dramas including Monster’s Ball, Friday Night Lights, and Sling Blade. His marriage to Angelina Jolie also brought the actor quite a bit of attention. Although he is famous, Thornton prefers for people not to make a fuss over him. We interviewed Thornton in 2007 and talked with him about how he raises his kids and how he views being famous.
Thornton shares how he raises his kids and how it has changed him.
“I try to encourage them in their strengths and where their dreams are, as opposed to making them follow the regular curriculum. That’s one of the things I wish I had had, cuz I spent a lot of time failing at subjects. Find where a kid’s heart is and make ‘em the best at that. I’m not like a hippie dad, I don’t just say, ‘Oh you kids just explore anything you want to and at the end of the day see where you want to be.’ I can use my experiences to teach them, because I made plenty of mistakes and now I try to live a good enough life to be a model for them. I can’t give up playing music and being an actor, but you don’t have to be a raving lunatic [laughs]…Yeah, a lot of it was. My boys don’t live with me; they live across town. We’re close and we see each other pretty easily…My little girl’s two-and-a-half…Stuff on TV, it it’s something bad to a kid, I can’t watch it. Now that I have a little girl… I haven’t had an infant for a long time. That sort of brought it all back to me. I’ve got this new, sort of lease on life with her. Boy, it keeps you in shape chasing a two-and-a-half-year-old. I love this kid; she’s so amazing.”
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
Thornton opens up on his view of stardom and how he views being famous.
“I never did believe I could be a star. I really just wanted to be able to keep making records and movies. The stardom was a surprise to me and still is; it’s been years now and I still can’t believe it sometimes. But the stardom side is really the negative side to me; I’m not real big on that part of it. You know how weird it is when you have a surprise birthday party, how uncomfortable you feel? I kind of feel that way when I go out to a big event and people are yelling my name. it’s kind of nerve-wracking to me, really. There are definitely benefits; it does help you to have more creative freedom. But I don’t want to be made a fuss over. I do get treated like a regular person more than others, because I’m probably more accessible and have a little more of an earthy vibe…Sometimes people will approach me, where a more sophisticated star they wouldn’t.”
Be famous for Christ. Whether you are a student, athlete, in your professional career, a stay-at-home mom, or retired, God wants to use you to reach others for Him. He has given each of us time, talent and treasure. It is up to us if we want to use it to bring glory to Him or to ourselves. Take time this week to reflect on how you are using your gifts and talents. Pray and ask God if there are things you need to adjust so that you can bring glory to Him. Consider actions or activities that might be taking away from your character or credibility for being a witness for Christ. Be willing to step away from those things as the Holy Spirit directs you.
Leave a legacy. Each of us has the opportunity to leave a legacy. As you consider your legacy, think about how you would want your friends and family to remember you after you have passed. Take time this week to pray and ask God what He wants your legacy to be. It might mean a career change or it might mean sharing Christ with someone that you know. It might mean making some decisions to step away from things or refocusing on things that you have put aside. Reflect on different people of the faith that have made an impact on your life and what character qualities stand out to you. Think about the decisions they made and the activities they were involved in to get them to that place.
Encourage others. Whether you have children, grandchildren, or students in your life, take time this week to encourage them. It doesn’t matter if they are young or old, everyone needs encouragement. Write them a note about something they have done that stands out to you. Take them out for coffee or ice cream and share with them about a time that they did something that had a positive impact on others. You can even leave encouraging notes throughout the house or in their lunch on sticky notes.
To read our entire interview with Billy Bob Thornton, click here.