Billy Bob Thornton

An actor, writer, director and musician, Billy Bob Thornton was born Aug. 4, 1955, in Hot Springs, Ark. After making his debut in the 1987 TV movie The Man Who Broke 1000 Chains, he played a variety of small roles, often as a comic-relief redneck sidekick or heavy.

The 1992 thriller One False Move (which Thornton also co-wrote) awakened critics to his acting potential, which was fulfilled five years later with the success of Sling Blade. Thornton wrote, directed and starred in this tale about a Southern misfit; the feature film grew out of his one-man show and later his short film, and won an Oscar for his script.

As Bill Paxton's dimwitted brother in A Simple Plan (1998), Thornton was nominated again for the Academy Award (Best Supporting Actor). His later films include Armageddon, Monster's Ball, The Man Who Wasn't There, Bad Santa and The Alamo.