Thornton knows roles to turn down

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Billy Bob Thornton says it's important to pick the right characters Billy Bob Thornton says it's important to pick the right characters

Billy Bob Thornton has said that the secret to a successful acting career is to know which roles to say no to.

The Armageddon actor is starring in the new TV series of Fargo, set 20 years on from the Coen Brothers' 1996 film, which also features Martin Freeman.

He said: "The most important thing for an actor to know is who he is. He's got to know, 'OK, I'm the guy for this role - or not.' Like I always tell people, 'If you're doing a movie about Charles de Gaulle, get a French man. That ain't me.'

"People will say, 'Well, you need to stretch yourself as an actor.' But if you start trying to play people who are inherently not you, that's not going to be your strongest stuff."

Billy plays central character Lorne Malvo in Fargo, a psycho who fetches up in the small town in Minnesota and influences the residents with his violent ways.

He said he was sure that this character was for him: "I don't know why, but I just went, 'Yeah. That fits: a hand in a glove.'

"I liked the idea of playing a guy who has no conscience," Thornton went on. "He has this weird sense of humour. He likes to mess with people. And as we went along I started thinking, he's a loner, so messing with people is actually his social life, his recreation."

He said of writer Noah Hawley's reimagining of Fargo: "He captured the Coen Brothers' spirit, got their vibe, and yet he didn't imitate them. I thought, if you've done that, you've done something great."

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