Joaquin, you have competition.
In a radio appearance reminiscent of David’s Letterman’s recent interview with actor-turned-rapper Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Bob Thornton gave a puzzling and difficult interview Wednesday.
Appearing on CBC radio, the Canadian public broadcaster, Thornton evaded simple questions and criticized the host for mentioning his movie background.
Thornton appeared on the show with his band, the Boxmasters, who are on tour with Willie Nelson.
When host Jian Ghomeshi asked Thornton when the band formed, Thornton said: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Thornton mostly gave brief, sometimes monosyllabic, answers. Asked what music he listened to when he was young, Thornton spoke about reading the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland.
The actor took offense when Ghomeshi suggested he was passionate about music.
“Would you say that to Tom Petty?” asked Thornton.
Thornton eventually made it clear that he was angry with Ghomeshi for his introduction.
Ghomeshi began the show introducing the band by focusing on their music and prodigious output in less than two years. He did, though, introduce Thornton as an “Oscar-winning screenwriter, actor and director.”
“You were instructed not to talk about … like that,” said Thornton, using an expletive.
Ghomeshi, who’s also in the band Moxy Fruvous, replied that he was “just giving context.” The host said he was pleased to simply talk about music and pointed out Thornton’s band was getting attention partially because of the career he’s had.
The 53-year-old Thornton won an Academy Award for his screenplay to 1996’s “Sling Blade,” which he also starred in and directed. This year he stars in “Manure,” which played at the Sundance Film Festival, and “The Informers,” which comes out later this month.
A lifelong musician, he appeared sensitive to any suggestion that music was a mere “hobby.”
The interview, available to stream on http://www.cbc.ca/q/ and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/Qtv, was receiving hundreds of comments from listeners who almost uniformly lambasted Thornton.
After the interview, the band performed an instrumental tune without Thornton — who didn’t have his instrument. “I’m a drummer … We don’t cart those around at 6 o’clock in the morning,” Thornton said.
Speaking by phone later, Ghomeshi said: “To not answer questions because I made the apparently egregious mistake of calling him an actor as well as a musician, it just seemed a little absurd.”
He added: “It does raise questions about the expectations of parameters that people ostensibly think that they put on us as arts, culture and entertainment journalists.”
Thornton’s publicist, Arnold Robinson, said the actor had no comment on the appearance.