Jian Ghomeshi vs. Billy Bob Thornton - Macleans.ca

Jian Ghomeshi vs. Billy Bob Thornton

Watch the actor—sorry, musician—channel Joaquin Phoenix on the CBC


Billy Bob Thornton’s interview with Q host Jian Ghomeshi this morning is destined to go down in annals of CBC history as one of the most memorably painful. The actor and Academy Award-winning screenwriter was in Toronto with his band, The Boxmasters, which is currently on tour with Willie Nelson. From the outset, Thornton was strangely evasive, sarcastic and rude. Finally, the reason for his bizarre behaviour was revealed: he was mightily miffed Ghomeshi referred to him as an actor and screenwriter in his introduction, contrary to an arrangement his people had struck with CBC producers. Seems Thornton was under the delusion listeners would be interested only in his drumming skills. One can only imagine what would have happened had Ghomeshi dared refer to Thornton’s greatest claim to fame: having once been married to Angelina Jolie.

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Jian Ghomeshi vs. Billy Bob Thornton

  1. Painful. Jian is a class act, and I feel sorry for the bandmates, but what a jerk Billy Bob is. Doesn’t like Canadians apparently.

  2. Total jerk. I listened to the whole thing thinking Jian should just go to a song and move to the next guest.

  3. The psycho and the sycophant.

  4. Wow. That was something else.

    In a very small way you could see Billy Bob’s point of wanting the interview to focus on the music but he was a total asshole about it.

    Two of the three bandmates seemed really disconcerted and uncomfortable because of this attitude and the third member had at least a look of agreeing with Billy Bob.

    Jian really did an excellent job moving things along and not falling into any verbal jousting.

    • Jian is also a drummer. He should have given Billy Bob a swift boot to the paradiddles. He let the “big star” off the hook. Thornton acted like a spoiled brat from moment one.

  5. Jian, you would have been excused, nay, applauded, had you simply pushed the ‘eject’ button and sent the pretentious jerk straight down a chute to the smoking area outside.

  6. What a pretentious windbag. Odd I have not heard any of his other albums. My head must have been stuck in gravy! Funny I thought all along his big claim to fame was Angelina Jolie.

  7. Billy Bob was probably massively hung over at 6am, or still drunk from the night before. Sure, he’s an asshole, but let’s frame that in the context of his hard-living hillbilly image. At least he was being a sullen, unresponsive drunk instead of an angry drunk.

    • Let’s face it; bad behavior is bad behavior, no more excusable in a drunk than anyone else. I;ve been in several bands; this clearly disturbed the karma within the group too.

    • It wasn’t 6am! It was live from Toronto after 10am.

      • Live at 9am. Don’t forget, CBC Radio goes out live to ATLANTIC Canada. Aside from local programs and news, most of CBC’s schedule in Toronto is on a one-hour delay.

  8. On the one hand, Billy Bob came off as a jerk. On the other hand, though, Jian Gomeshi has always seemed like a bit of a tool, so in that respect it was fun to watch someone be so surly towards him.

    • You sound as if you’re a tool too. You know, The kind that often thinks they are saying something “witty”, but are actually sounding like a overly-self-assured “tool”. You probably kiss a lot of mirrors.

  9. As my parents have always told me….the best way to deal with an obnoxious person, company, or business is with your wallet. If I had any doubts about buying or listening to the music, I certainly don’t now. If enough people quit listening, or even buying the music, BB Thornton might not be as arrogant. But, unfortunately, because he appears to think only of himself, I am sure that it wouldn’t bother him in the least for the loss of revenue. Which in itself is terrible because it would mean the loss of reveune for the other band members who really looked as if they would have liked to have been anywhere but in that studio with an out of control (or would it be a control freak) driver.
    To Jian, good try at at a bad situation.

  10. What was this about canadians being like mashed potatoes without the gravy? I used to like this guy but now -> swoosh Under The Bus!

  11. I think that the drums comment was complete BS. In the photos of him and the band that are around the interwebs, BBT seems to be up front singing most of the time… He just copped out and decided that he didn’t want to sing..thus the instrumental. What a tool… the excellent host JG wasn’t even asking him questions about his so-called “acting”, but about his music and musical influences, and BBT was acting like a D-bag. Remember, these artists have much more to gain from being on these shows to promote themselves…people don’t go on the Tonight Show, as an example, for fun (most of the time), they do it because they are obligated to promote their most recent work…and they should give the show, the audience and the host some respect for allowing them to do so…
    Man, this guy (BBT) pisses me off…

  12. That guy is so smug and loathsome. And then there’s Billy Bob Thornton.

  13. It’s about time that a guest put Jian Ghomeshi in his place. Ghomeshi is an embarrassment to Canada, a relentless low-brow inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity. He can’t even read the opening billboards properly. He finds himself much more fascinating than his guests. Guests only exist for him to insert jejune commentary and interrupt with his “much more knowledgeable” and self-important opinions. I find myself wanting to smack him, and I wish Billy Bob had.

    To have the irreplaceable Eleanor Wachtel, one of the greatest interviewers in the history of radio, whose toe-nail clippings are more intelligent and wittier than Ghomeshi in his wildest egotistical dreams, lose her time slot to this pseudo-intellectual is a national disgrace.

    • “a relentless low-brow inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity”

      I’d have come up with a pithier way of getting that particular idea across. :)

      • “Inebriated….verbosity” was an excerpt in tribute to Disraeli’s famous statement regarding Gladstone, much of which could be used to characterize Ghomeshi: “A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself.”

        My initial distaste for Ghomeshi started the first week in which he was given the old Arts Tonight slot previously occupied by Ms Eleanor Wachtel. He did a banal and unimaginative interview with an author, and I was appalled. Since then, he has not failed to disappoint.

        Normally, I tune out the moment I hear his voice, but I did want to hear an interview with the band Anvil a few weeks ago. He interrupted and flatly contradicted one of the band members a few minutes into the interview, on a subjective matter…the gentlemen did not even get a chance to finish one sentence. This is not uncommon behaviour for him, and even when not being rude, his interviews lack depth and style. I resent every penny of my tax dollars that trickle into his salary.

        • Oh thank heavens I thought I was alone in the wilderness! Jian Ghomeshi gives new meaning to the word ” babble”. I would rather listen to Muzak in an endless loop of “Feelings” .

    • Ghomeshi handled himself ridiculously well. Had I been in his chair, I’d have oozed the gravy BBT says Canadians are missing.

    • Can’t say I am a huge Ghomeshi fan, but you are kidding with the verbosity comment? Right? Please tell me you are kidding…

  14. I have been voraciously eating up the Internet coverage of this transcendentally insane interview for nearly 24 hours now. I just can’t stop myself. One thing that really amuses me are the dozens of inadvertent (?) references to BBT’s band as “The Boxcutters” (including in the Globe and Mail) — that is beautiful poetic justice! I strongly urge all those who, like me, have developed a powerful antipathy for this undeservedly famous megalomaniac to spread that misnomer far and wide.

    And to the poster who said “It’s about time a guest put Jian Ghomeshi in his place”, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to keep waiting for your messiah. It hasn’t happened yet. Sling Blade’s doltish, sullen mumbles don’t exactly constitute masterful repartee.

  15. I would have enjoyed it if Jian hadn’t been quite so nice.
    Too bad this is viral on you-tube and giving Billy-Bob’s band more publicity.

  16. Whatever you may think of Ghomeshi, Billy Bob is clearly over the edge with celebrity madness: no contact with reality in that guy’s privileged life.

    I wish someone had levelled with this egomaniac and told him that the if it were not for his screen career, no one would take him seriously as a musician.

    Because Billy, you deluded fool.; You. Are. Not. Very. Good.

  17. Billy Bob did no favors for his bandmates by acting like that during the interview. On the other hand, I think more good things are in store for Ghomeshi. Watching him keep his cool while standing up to Thorton was really impressive, I’m not sure if I could have done that.

    • The most painful part of the interview was Jian saying goodbye to Billy Bob. I now realize that BB can’t act — he always plays the same surely character — and its not a character after all !!!

      Was any music of the ???? ah Boxmasters played at all? I have never heard of them and I expect they will go down as the band that made 2 or 3 double albums in one year with total sales of 200. Maybe they deserve more but I am not so sure I am interested in listening. Pass the mashed potatoes and butter.

      • Hats off to you, Jian Ghomeshi – for holding your cool and conducting like an ultimate professional.

        Had it been me conducting the interview, I certainly would NOT have been as gracious, would have shut down the interview and would have booted the arrogant hillbilly (Billy Bob) back accross the border – along with his over-inflated ego!!!

        However, a positive did come out of this ‘painful weirdness’. It showed Billy Bob Thornton for who he truly is — an arrogant, egotistical dirtbag that masks behind the glow of celebrity.

        Billy Bob, you can definitely learn a thing or two about courtesy , respect and professionalism from our CANADIAN host Mr. Ghomeshi.

  18. Yes, Chuck, we heard you the first and second times over at Let Freedom Rain and National Post. Jeez, everyone just HAS to know what you think, eh?

    • And I read the same comments from Chuck over at youtube. There was no attribution to Disraeli there though. Thanks for clearing that up Chuck! I thought the verbosity was yours.

  19. All of the these comments would be mildly entertaining, if they weren’t just wrong. The guilty party is this Jian character, whoever he is. On a professional level, he agreed to the content of what they would be discussing. This is how it always works. Is anyone really naive enough to think that Leno or O’Brien or any other show is random? BBT got blind-sided, plain and simple. It was a cheap shot and anything but random. How 100% of this has turned into jabs at Thornton is weird and unfair. Maybe this is Jiany boy plucked the idea out of a CBC manual. Get some unwarranted press attention by being a liar and creating a victim out of your subject. This is starting to sound more CBCish all the time. Now I don’t feel so bad about the $20,000,000.00 a week we give those guys. I know I know….they’re underfunded.

    • You can’t be serious? Go back and watch the video, Jian merely put Thorton in context. I mean come on this is a radio show. When you hear someone who sounds like Billy Bob, and has the exact same name aren’t you going to wonder if it is the one and only Thorton who spent most of his life in film? If Ghomeshi hadn’t mentioned his film career listeners would be wondering why the hell this two year old band was being interviewed on our national radio station.

      Yes Jian should have mentioned that he would be putting Thorton into context, during whatever backroom deal they had going on but the truth is Thorton handled this interview like a baby regardless. Pouting, rambling, and acting like he was drunk or on drugs is no way to express your displeasure over the content of the interview.

      People whine about Jian being a pushover yet Thorton didn’t even say anything until Jian questioned him about why he was so upset. Instead he sat in the corner and had a tantrum just like any spoiled Hollywood brat.

      One final comment: following some of the coverage on various sites I’ve discovered that the only real people who dissaprove of Jian’s handling of this interview are characters who have an axe to grind with CBC. Jian may not be the best interview out there, but at least he’s passionate about the arts and he handles himself with some class when he interviews douchebags like Thorton.

      • That’s too funny…… “axe to grind with CBC”. That certainly doesn’t narrow the field. I think pretty much anyone who is capable of counting and is not directly benefiting from the free dough they toss around, has an “axe to grind with CBC”. It appears as though poor old Billy Bob has now shed his “victim” status and descended rapidly into the ranks of “douchebag”. Ouch !!!! Come on now, did you really mean to go so far as to call him a “douchebag’?

  20. I’ve been following this story and the one thing I’ve noticed from the American coverage is that they refer to Jian as a “DJ” whereas in Canada he gets the title “Interviewer” or “Arts Journalist”. Is this just lazy shorthand? Or do they not have titles like that in the States?

  21. To GIVE IT A REST:

    There was NOT ONE question related to BBT’s acting career. The mention of his acting accolades were simply for context. Anyone who defends this man’s behaviour during the interview is clearly ingorant of what ‘respect’ means. BBT is unworthy of receiving it.

    Talk with your wallets people! I am boycotting anything BBT related until the rest of my days.

  22. it takes real skill to act as spacey and random as Billy Bob did in that interview…