From the Vaults: In the Driver's Seat
Billy Bob Thornton steers 'Jayne Mansfield's Car'
By Marjorie Baumgarten, 3:10PM, Fri. Sep. 13
It was nearly 11 months ago that Billy Bob Thornton stood on the Paramount Theatre stage on the closing night of the 2012 Austin Film Festival and conducted a freewheeling Q&A following the premiere of his film Jayne Mansfield's Car, which finally arrives back in Austin today for an exclusive run at the AMC Barton Creek Square.
Thornton directed Jayne Mansfield's Car, as well as co-writing the script with Tom Epperson and co-starring in it, alongside acting titans Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, and Robert Patrick. It's an anguished Southern drama about fathers and sons. At the time, Thornton also seemed anguished about some of the negative reviews the film had received while on the festival circuit. (See today's Chronicle review here, and our blog post about the Austin Q&A here.) To the Austin audience he declared, "If a metaphorical title is lost on you guys, I'm screwed."
Austin-based screenwriter Anne Rapp (Cookie's Fortune), who also served as Thornton's script supervisor on the film, moderated the Q&A. Asking Thornton why he always returns to the South for the films he directs (Sling Blade, All the Pretty Horses, Daddy and Them), the filmmaker observed, "There are always interesting people in the South. Even the street people are interesting here. In L.A., they're dazed." Before the lively session was through, Thornton went on the record with his views on our modern electronic age, his detractors, and the value of test screenings, pointing out that "Edward Hopper didn't have to test his art at the mall."