Thursday, 9 April 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #266: The Basis Behind the Billy Bob Blowup

By now everybody's heard about actor Billy Bob Thornton's little shit-fit on the set of the Canadian arts show Q, and it's host Jian Ghomeshi. To sum it up, Thornton was there to talk music, Ghomeshi mentioned that he was also an actor, and Billy Bob took it as the most grievous insult ever delivered to humanity.

Boo-hoo Billy Bob.

But really, Billy Bob is not to blame.

At least not completely to blame.

You see, the real culprit the force that drove him to shit a kitten on live radio and television was method acting.

Now I'm not saying that Stanislaski's book on acting has a chapter on becoming a major league asshole, but the elements that surround method acting put him over the edge.

You see in the olden days of show-business, performers like actors, singers, and actors that sang knew that they were in show-
business. Whether they were plugging a movie, an album, or a live appearance at the delightful Copacabana, they knew that they had to sell the proverbial soap, because that's how they made their living.

Method acting changed that.

Suddenly actors were no longer just entertainers, they were perceived as having deeper insights into the human condition than mere mortals, and the banal necessities of selling their work was somehow beneath them. And when you start that sort of ego stroking on people already near pathological in the self-esteem departments.

Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra didn't mind if they were asked about their movies when they came on the Tonight Show to plug an album, it all put the pennies in their piggy bank, and shilling both was part of the job. But try that with a modern celebrity that honestly thinks such things are beneath them, and you get a shit fit like Billy Bob's.

Plus there's also the concept of the Method Actor being "in character" for a scene. Billy Bob was on the show Q to play a musician, and there was this Canadian dip-shit going off his precious script. A very telling statement was when he snapped that the host wouldn't have asked Tom Petty that sort of question.

Think about that for a second, and the logic behind it.

If Tom Petty acted in a movie, I'm sure the host would have asked a similar question in the context of a singer having a passion for film. It shouldn't have been a problem for the host to ask an actor about his passion for music,
but that wasn't in Billy Bob's script. He was in character, and he was in the moment, and that character didn't make movies that moment.

To Billy Bob, the host of Q was that DOP from the Terminator movie walking into his eye-line and ruining his scene. Except unlike Christian Bale, who was being kept from doing his job by unprofessional behaviour, Billy Bob should have realized that
his job required him to tell a couple of quick funny stories, and then segue back to the music, the way an old pro would have done it.

But they don't teach actors, or singers, how to do a smooth segue these days. It's considered beneath them.

And now a break for some shameless self pimping.

Look for my story The Dixie Chrononauts.

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