Billy Bob Thornton Signs On For 'Bad News Bears,' Bemoans His Appeal To Jerks

Instead of playing sports in real life, actor plays coaches on the big screen.

Billy Bob Thornton is in theaters now as a Texas high school football coach, but his true sports passion is actually baseball.

"My dream was to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals," recalled Thornton, whose father coached basketball. "I actually tried out for the Kansas City Royals, but I broke my collarbone in training camp."

This might explain why after "Friday Night Lights," Thornton is jumping into another coaching role. The actor has signed on to play Walter Matthau's part in a remake of the 1976 baseball classic, "The Bad News Bears."

"I'm not big on remakes usually, but this'll be a fun one," Thornton said recently. "I always loved that movie; I loved the Walter character."

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the team that wrote "Bad Santa," also penned the script for "The Bad News Bears" remake, which Thornton described as "hilarious."

"I've traditionally done independent films, really heavy characters, and the last few years I started doing comedies and I think they're good for me, personally and professionally," Thornton said. "I'm having fun."

With more comedies, Thornton also hopes to expand his limited fanbase — limited, at least, in his own mind.

"Since 'Monster's Ball' I'm every black guy in America's hero, you know what I mean?" Thornton deadpanned. "I can't go through the airport without at least one security guard going, 'Billy Bob, hey man, Halle Berry, man!' You know, like, 'That's right!' So I got a whole fanbase there, and then with 'Bad Santa,' it's like every a--hole in the world likes me."

Thornton, who recently became a father for the third time, will shoot "The Bad News Bears" early next year, and he'll follow that with the psychological drama "Fade Out." "I'm playing a schizophrenic screenwriter who's married to an actress, which won't take a lot of research," he joked. (Milla Jovovich is playing the actress, not ex-wife Angelina Jolie.)

Billy Bob has a few other movies in development and would also like to write or direct again.

"Eventually I will," said Thornton, who made a name for himself as the writer, director and star of 1996's "Sling Blade." "But it takes up so much of your life, and I'm so busy between music and movies and the kids. There's a lot going on."

In real life, Thornton said he hopes to coach his own sons in sports soon, for which his "Friday Night Lights" experience should come in handy.

"It's my first time in a movie I didn't curse," Thornton joked. "It's hard. You ought to try to scream at people without cursing. It's almost like you break your neck trying to do it."

Thornton also insists he still throws a mean slider. And for the record, the broken collarbone that ended his baseball career was a fluke.

"I'd just got there to the training camp. I'd been there five minutes," the actor recalled. "We weren't even playing. They were taking infield practice, and the third baseman threw it over to first base. The first baseman wasn't looking, and it hit me in the collarbone. I was just standing there talking to a guy. It's like going to war and living through, like, four years of combat and on the way home your jeep turns over or something."

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