Bob Thornton is Davy Crockett on, off set
Billy Bob Thornton grew up wanting to be Davy Crockett.
But then again, who didnt?
The way we grew up Davy Crockett was sort of,
in a way more of a cartoon character, he said,
a larger than life bear-hunter who wore a coonskin
hat perfect for kids.
Like Thornton, many of us associate Crockett with the
many myths that bear his name, never realizing the stark
distinction between Davy, the legend, and David, the
person behind it.
Crockett has always been portrayed simply as a
frontiersman, this wild man from the hills, said
John Lee Hancock, writer-director of The Alamo,
but I was always interested in both sides of Crockett.
Hancock used the film as an opportunity to create the
interplay of Davy versus David.
Billy Bob has that dichotomy as well, said
Hancock, referring to the similarities between the actor
and the character he portrays. I dont think
theres anybody else who could do this role,
Thornton said when he was asked to play Crockett in
The Alamo, he didnt have to think
When you read about his personality, how he was
with people, Im sort of the same guy, Thornton
said. There are myths about my life too.
Normally I play maybe parts of myself, but certainly
not exactly myself, Thornton said. In this
one I kind of do that. Its maybe the first time
I have ever done that.
Thornton said he is not as weird as some people make
him out to be, but he often feels compelled to fulfill
the image that has been created for him.
Im a little more normal than people say,
he said, so every now and then you have to throw
people a bone: Okay, so I ate a cat.
Thornton said he thinks that is also the way it is with
the Davy Crockett legend.
He had to ultimately become that thing that had
been told about him, he said.
Thornton said his biggest concern with portraying Crockett
was the pressure of having to live up to such a legend,
while still portraying him as just a regular guy.
He was just a guy who liked people, a storyteller,
just a friendly guy who at the same time had this sort
of crazy edge to him, Thornton said. He
perpetuated his own legend.
I dont know if Ive perpetuated mine
so much, but people have done it for me a lot,
he said. So, in that sense I relate to that.
One of the biggest controversies regarding The
Alamo is its historical accuracy, especially concerning
Crocketts execution of which there are many theories.
Hancock used his authority to play out the most heroic
of these stories, a decision that Thornton felt was
best because it shows what everyday heroes are made
We used to have heroes and now its like
bad guys have a better crack at being heroes these days,
Thornton said. I think the world has become pretty
cynical and we could use people like Davy Crockett.
Crocketts execution in the film follows a description
found in a diary from a Mexican general who said Crockett
died with courage and dignity and was well behaved.
I didnt do it very well behaved, Thornton
said, but I did that for Texas.
In addition to his heroic feats, Crockett is remembered
for his unique style of oratory which was sure to draw
Cast and crew members said Thornton portrayed the quirky
side of Crockett both on and off the screen. His offbeat
humor kept the set from going stale.
I was kind of Crockett-like on the set, but I
think Im Crockett-like on the one Im doing
now, Thornton said. I try to rally the troops
around all the time.
Thornton is currently working on a film titled Friday
Night Lights, about another Texas legacy
football that should be finished later this year.
Probably one of the greatest feelings of anything
I do is when Im finished with something and I
can just sit back and say Good grief,
Well, I think its that time, Billy.