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Belligerent Billy Bob Thornton derails CBC Radio interview

Actor-musician Billy Bob Thornton obviously wasn't happy, as he sat in the CBC radio studio Wednesday morning talking to Jian Ghomeshi, resulting in a bizarre on-air sparring match and sparking hundreds of listener e-mails.

Watch the interview here:

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The host of CBC Radio's arts and culture program Q gave his usual, upbeat introduction to Thornton and his fellow musicians in the Boxmasters, Thornton's hillbilly-meets-British Invasion-inspired rock band. As a point of reference, Ghomeshi mentioned Thornton's Oscar-winning screen career.

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So far, so good.

But when asked about his influences, Thornton mumbled, "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know what you mean by that."

It went downhill from there, into left-field non-sequiturs by Thornton about reading Famous Monsters of Film Land as a kid, until the truth came out. Thornton's handlers had told Q's producers to talk about music, which Ghomeshi was happy to do, since the segment was all about the band and its swing through Canada.

But as Thornton protested in gravel-strewn belligerence ("Would you say that to Tom Petty?" he mumbled), the debate over whether to talk of his screen career became the theme of the day.

Thornton's band members then played a tune without Thornton singing as he normally would. He stood instead by his publicist's side.

He left without saying goodbye, which the other Boxmasters did, sheepishly.

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Guy Dixon is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. More


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