Were you a fan of the original movie, and did you watch Walter Matthau’s performance before you began shooting?
BILLY BOB THORNTON:
“I really loved the movie, but I didn’t want to watch it right then because I was afraid that maybe I would subconsciously try to do just little physical things that Matthau did. And I really didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to catch myself opening a beer the way he did, and stuff like that.”
Do kids know more cuss words now?
“Kids have so much more access to that kind of thing. If you look at television, South Park is available for anybody to watch. And the language in South Park is much worst than what’s in The Bad News
How old were you when you started swearing?
“My dad helped me out with that. It was a natural part of our life. I mean, not real heavy curse words, we didn’t say the F word or stuff like that. The real heavy duty ones I probably didn’t say until I was in high school; my high school teachers sort of inspired me to say some of them [he laughs].”
Do you have a favorite baseball movie?
“There’s a movie called The Stratton Story with Jimmy Steward. It’s an older movie, a really good movie, based on a true story of a guy who had a hunting accident and lost a leg, and came back to pitch for the Cardinals. I really loved The Natural too. I thought that was great.”
What is the best advice you can give to kids on how to enjoy the game?
“It really is the message in the movie, which is no matter if you’re the fastest kid in school or the tallest or the strongest, if you’ll just go out there and have fun and enjoy it as a game, you may realize that maybe you’re better than you thought you were. If you treat it as a game and have fun at it, then you loosen up and you can actually become better at what you’re doing, because you’re not intimidated so much by people.”
You’ve never done a sequel – would you like to play this character again?
“You’re right. This is probably the first movie I’ve ever done that would be considered a franchise. And I would do another one. I had a lot of fun doing it. And the main reason I would do it again is because they chose to make the movie more or less the same tone of the original. They didn’t make it into a big, splashy, goofy sort of studio comedy. It’s still kept kind of real and low key. I work enough to where I would probably be able to do other movies to where doing this again wouldn’t hurt … plus, I’ve got a contract!”