Since his early days on the ’90s sitcom “Hearts Afire,” Billy Bob Thornton largely stayed away from television — a career path that worked for him, given his three Oscar nominations and his win for writing “Sling Blade.” But the 58-year-old actor, writer and director came back to TV with a vengeance for the miniseries “Fargo,” in which his portrayal of of the implacable killer Lorne Malvo landed him one of the show’s 17 Emmy nominations.
Also read: Emmy Nominees: The Complete List
How significant are awards to you?
Well, I think they’re very significant. For actors, it begets work. And since the audience is keen on watching awards shows, it gives a lot of exposure to your show.
And when you’re a part of one like “Fargo,” we’re all so proud of it. There were so many of us involved, a great bunch of people, and obviously I’m so happy and proud of the other people from our show that we’re nominated.
You’ll have the whole gang together at the Emmys.
It’s a real bonding experience. At awards shows you see a lot of old friends that you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s like that feeling with the family at holiday time. You look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas with the family because everybody’s in a festive mood, and you know you’re going to see those cousins you haven’t seen in a long time. “Oh, there’s Uncle So-and-So. Is he still drinking?”
Sometimes awards season feels like that — and it’s good, because in this business you tend to drift apart. Everybody’s gone all the time. [Laughs] Except me. Except for “Fargo,” I’ve been sitting at the house watching baseball.
Hasn’t “Fargo” led to any other jobs?
No, not so far. Maybe the nomination will help. I hope so. ‘Cause I got a family, so it’d be nice to get a job.
I’ve been offered a couple of things, but I don’t think I was really right for them, to tell you the truth. I probably wasn’t the best guy for the job. But if it goes for another six months like this without a job, then maybe I will be the right guy for the next role that’s wrong for me.
I assume Lorne Malvo is not a role where you thought, I’m not the right guy for this.
Oh gosh, no. This is one of those cases you get three or four times out of 100, where you know, I’m the guy for this job. Everything seemed right. It was physically hard because of the weather, but other than that it was one of the joys of my career. It’s such a great thing, to be a part of television at this time when it’s so alive.
So you don’t know what’s next?
No sir, I sure don’t. I imagine the field of things people think I’m good for has probably narrowed over the years. When I was 15 or 20, or even 10 years younger, there were a lot more opportunities. But something will come along.