TIFF 2012: 4 questions Jian Ghomeshi should definitely not ask Billy Bob Thornton

The musician-writer-director-actor is in town again: anything could happen

Three years ago, Billy Bob Thornton riled our polite Canadian sensibilities while huffing and puffing his way through a Jian Ghomeshi interview on CBC’s Q. Ghomeshi had noted that Thornton, who was there to promote a new album, had enjoyed a pretty illustrious career in film as a writer, director and actor. But Billy Bob was not impressed. For more than 10 minutes he evaded questions, dropped non-sequiturs and antagonized Ghomeshi.

This year Billy Bob is back in Toronto as the writer and director of Jayne Mansfield’s Car, his first movie in a decade. It will have its North American premiere at TIFF on September 13. While an invite to Q seems unlikely, the possibility of Ghomeshi and Billy Bob sharing an elevator leads the mind to wonder. Should it happen, here are five questions Ghomeshi should refrain from asking:

1. Do you think Tom Petty’s first love was movies?

Around the seven-minute mark of the interview, Ghomeshi tried to get Thornton to answer his question about what Thornton listened to growing up. Thornton didn’t bite. But Ghomeshi pressed: “Given that you seem to quite passionate about music, I was wondering about your [influences].”

Thornton replied, “Would you say that to Tom Petty?”

Ghomeshi responded, “Would I say that he’s passionate about music? Yeah.”

Thornton continued to reference Petty. I don’t know what’s more absurd, not asking Tom Petty a question like that (if he was promoting a movie and his first love was movies) or Thornton placing himself with the likes of Tom Petty as a musician.

2. Is it hard for you to make films when you basically grew up as a music historian?

The most over-the-top moment of the Q fiasco was Thornton’s claim that he “basically grew up as a music historian.”  A little humility would have gone a long way for the cosmic cowboy.

3. What about gravy without the potatoes?

At his most mean spirited, Billy Bob said something about someone being mashed potatoes without the gravy. Was he insulting all of Canada? The next night, as he was almost booed off the stage at Massey Hall, Billy Bob clarified: all Canadians aren’t mashed potatoes without gravy. Just one: Jian Ghomeshi. What a relief. At least he didn’t call us poutine without the cheese curds.

4. What did you do with all your back issues of Famous Monsters of Film Land?

In an attempt to talk about anything other than his music or his own films, Billy Bob recalled a subscription he had as a child to the magazine Famous Monsters of Film Land. This might have been a poor choice of anecdote (since he was being one at the time), but it’s nice to know that if this rock and roll music thing doesn’t work out Billy Bob has a back up. Mint copies of early issues sell for as much as $500 on Ebay.

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